HRs lift Nationals past Reds, 2-1
CINCINNATI (AP) — Jordan Zimmermann extended Washington’s streak of dominant starts, and Danny Espinosa homered for the second straight game Saturday night, leading the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The Nationals lost catcher Wilson Ramos, whose right leg buckled while he chased a passed ball in the seventh inning. He had to be helped from the field.
Zimmermann (2-3) gave up five hits and struck out nine. Washington’s starters have allowed one earned run or fewer 19 times this season.
Espinosa hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth off Jose Arredondo (2-1). Ramos also had a solo shot off Mat Latos.
Nationals rookie Bryce Harper was back in right field with a large bandage above his left eye, covering a 10-stitch gash from slamming his bat against a wall on Friday night. He went 0 for 4 and struck out.
Manager Davey Johnson decided to leave Harper in the lineup so he could take his frustrations out on the opposing pitcher instead of the dugout wall. Instead, he ended up 0 for 9 in the series with four strikeouts.
The Reds gave away Joey Votto bobbleheads and drew 42,294 fans, their third capacity crowd of the season. For the second night in a row, Cincinnati couldn’t do much against the major leagues’ stingiest pitching staff.
Washington’s starters have 17 quality starts in the past 18 games, taking the pressure off an offense that doesn’t score a lot of runs.
Henry Rodriguez pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 10 chances, fanning three batters on 10 pitches.
The Nationals had a chance to break it open in the fifth with their young, bandaged star at the plate. The Reds intentionally walked Adam LaRoche to load the bases with two outs and bring up Harper, who hit a grounder up the middle.
Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips made a backhand stop, then flipped the ball behind his back for a forceout at second, raising his arm and pounding his chest three times in celebration.
Nothing Harper could do about that.
Latos gave up three hits in five innings. He also walked five, matching his career high.
Cincinnati put Scott Rolen on the 15-day disabled list shortly before the start of the game with more pain in his left shoulder, a chronic problem the past few years. The 37-year-old third baseman had surgery on the shoulder last August.
NOTES: RH Bronson Arroyo tries for his second straight win in the final game of the series. Washington starts Edwin Jackson, who has faced the Reds only twice in his career. … Shirley Larkin, mother of Reds SS Barry Larkin, will throw a ceremonial pitch on Sunday for Mother’s Day. … Cincinnati called up 3B Mike Costanzo from Triple-A Louisville to take Rolen’s spot. Costanzo has split time between Double-A and Triple-A.