Votto’s HR only hit as Reds lose 8-1

Published 2:54 am Friday, April 26, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Cincinnati Reds brought one of the best hitting lineups in the National League to face struggling Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez.

Aside from Joey Votto’s home run, Gonzalez shut the Reds down.

Gonzalez allowed just one hit in eight innings, and Denard Span and Danny Espinosa drove in three runs each to lead the Nationals to an 8-1 win over the Reds on Thursday night.

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Gonzalez, who allowed 12 runs in his previous nine innings, retired the first 11 Cincinnati batters before Votto homered with two outs in the fourth. He struck out seven and walked two against a Reds team that began play third in the league in batting and second in runs scored.

“I’ve been watching Gio for a few years and when he’s on he’s on,” Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. “Our reports were his control wasn’t sharp the last few games, but he was pretty sharp today, especially when he’s given the cushion he was given.”

By the time Votto homered, Gonzalez (2-1) had a 6-0 lead.

“Gio’s a guy with an All-Star track record and a guy who could have won the Cy Young last year and it’s not surprising,” Votto said. “I’m not making an excuse for our team, it’s a credit to him and how he pitched tonight. I looked up his numbers on the board and he hadn’t had a very good season so far and I imagine he was about due. And tonight was one of those starts for him.”

The Reds, starting a 10-game road trip after completing an 8-2 homestand, have lost six of their last seven road games. Washington had lost nine of 12 and its previous six home games.

The Nationals scored two runs in the bottom of the second against Bronson Arroyo (2-2). With one out, Ian Desmond singled and scored on Espinosa’s double. After Kurt Suzuki singled and moved to second on Gonzalez’s bunt, Espinosa scored on an infield single by Span.

Washington took a 6-0 lead in the third. Bryce Harper led off with his eighth home run of the year, the most any National has hit in April. Harper also doubled. He has 11 multi-hit games in the 22 Washington has played.

“They’ve got a pretty good hitting lineup,” Arroyo said. “They hit some balls where we weren’t and they hit some balls hard when I made some mistakes.

“As good as Gio threw today, you keep them to 3-0, 3-1 maybe you’ve got a chance, but as good as he was throwing to give them six runs early was just too big of a mountain to climb.”

Following Harper’s home run, Jayson Werth singled. Adam LaRoche, who had struck out six consecutive times, reached on a two-base throwing error by Votto at first. Werth scored on an infield out by Desmond. Espinosa hit his second home run of the year, a two-run shot, and Washington led by six.

Arroyo allowed six runs — five earned — in six innings. He walked one and struck out two.

“He went six innings. He saved my bullpen,” Baker said. “We didn’t win the game, but he saved our bullpen for the next six games before we get an off day.”

Span’s two-run triple in the eighth made it 8-1. Votto’s home run was his fourth of the year.

NOTES: Reds OF Shin-Soo Choo walked in the ninth and has reached base safely in his first 22 games this season. … Washington C Wilson Ramos, who’s on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, will likely go on a rehab assignment this weekend when Double-A Harrisburg plays at Bowie. … Cincinnati LHP Sean Marshall, on the DL since April 10 with shoulder tendinitis, made his second rehab appearance Wednesday night for Triple A Louisville, pitching a scoreless inning against Gwinnett. He’s been eligible to come off the disabled list since Tuesday and joined the Reds Thursday in Washington. “He’s close. He’s real close. He said he’s feeling good,” Baker said. … Cincinnati RHP Homer Bailey (1-1, 3.24) faces Washington RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-1, 2.67) on Friday night.