Jul 6, 2015, 10:17 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On the heels of an impressive, 3-game sweep of the defending champion Giants, the Nationals opened a 3-game series against a struggling Reds team that for some reason has owned them this season. And the script didn’t change on this night.
Eugenio Suarez’s solo homer off Casey Janssen in the top of the eighth broke a 2-2 tie and put the Reds on top for good, giving Cincinnati its fourth win in as many games against the Nats this season. Suarez took an 0-2 slider from Janssen and lofted it high down the left-field line, depositing it just next to the foul pole.
That homer proved the difference, but the Nationals didn’t help their cause much by managing only two runs and five hits off the Reds pitching staff. They needed a wild pitch to score their first run, then got a solo homer by Danny Espinosa in the bottom of the sixth, but that was it. The losses of both Denard Span and Yunel Escobar to apparent injuries during the game only made things more of a challenge for the lineup.
Doug Fister wound up with a no-decision, allowing two runs (one earned) over six innings. That might have been good enough to earn a win many nights, but not on this one, and not against a Cincinnati club the Nationals simply haven’t been able to figure out this season.
HITTING LOWLIGHT: It’s tough to do much at the plate when both your No. 1 and No. 2 hitter are forced to leave with apparent injuries. That’s the challenge the Nationals faced in this one. Span departed after two innings, perhaps his bad back acting up again, especially after a 29-minute rain delay. Escobar, meanwhile, appeared to wince after making a throw across the diamond in the top of the fourth and wound up getting replaced an inning later. Those injuries left only Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Ian Desmond among the regulars in the Nationals’ lineup.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: Fister wasn’t necessarily sharp on this night, but he only allowed one earned run over six innings, testament to his ability to make pitches when he needed them. The right-hander didn’t have one clean inning, giving up a hit in all six frames. He also committed his third error of the season, wildly throwing to first base on a routine comebacker, an error that led to the Reds’ first run. It’s still a bit of a work-in-progress for Fister, who hasn’t quite recaptured his 2014 form, even after his DL stint. But he did compete on Monday and gave his team a chance.
KEY STAT: Five of the six runs Casey Janssen has surrendered this season have come against the Cincinnati Reds.
UP NEXT: We’ve got a great pitching matchup on deck Tuesday night. It’s Max Scherzer (9-6, 1.82) vs. Johnny Cueto (5-5, 2.84) at 7:05 p.m.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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