Livan gives bullpen needed rest, 7-1 over Reds

CINCINNATI, Oh. --- The Nationals took their second straight over Cincinnati, 7-1, behind a complete game seven-hitter from workhorse Livan Hernandez (7-6) and a suddenly potent offense.

After scoring just six runs in their first four games out of the break, the Nats have exploded for 22 runs in the last 27 innings.

Hernandez allowed just a single run, an RBI groundout by Ramon Hernandez in the fourth, struck out five batters, walking none. Livan said he kept hydrated in the 83-degree weather by drinking seven or eight bottles of water during the nearly three-hour game.

Reds starter Edinson Volquez (1-1) struggled with his control and the Nats did the 1-2-3 on his pitching, scoring six runs in the first three innings to take a commanding lead. Volquez lasted just 2 and 1/3rd innings, allowing all six runs on five hits, four walks and four strikeouts.

Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina slammed home runs. Willie Harris thought he had one too, but it bounced off the top of the right field fence and back in to play for a triple (the 500th hit of his career).

Even still, Harris had a big series, scoring a run in each game and Thursday went 2-3 with two runs and an RBI.

Harris said they could not have done it without the amazing pitching and durability of Livan.

"Livan is historical. He just knows how to pitch. He keeps you off balance. Sometimes he is going to get hit, he is going to give up runs, but that is all pitchers, it is going to happen. For the most part, he has done that all year. That's what we expect from Livan."

Nyjer Morgan also had a great series, with at least an RBI in each game of the four-game set (5 RBI overall), setting a career high Thursday with three stolen bases in his first three at-bats.

"All the planets were lined up for once and I finally didn't get caught. That felt good. I was just trying to do my thing so the guys behind me can get some good pitches and drive me in as well."

Nyjer feels his work with hitting coach Rick Eckstein is paying dividends at the plate.

"I think I am finding my little niche. I have been working with Eck in the cage all year long. It can't stop now, we have to just keep it going."

Bernadina crushed his sixth home of the season in the seventh inning for the final margin and talked about the nats exploding for 22 runs in the final three games of the series.

"It is huge. You got to keep battling against those guys because they are pretty good hitters. Livo pitched a good game. We put it together in the end. It does feel good."

The Nationals head off to Milwaukee now 3-4 to begin the second half of the season. Craig Stammen (2-4, 5.50 ERA, 46 K) looks to build off an impressive one earned run allowed six innings in Miami last weekend when he takes the mound tomorrow night at Miller Park. He is opposed by lefthander Chris Narveson for the Brewers (8-6, 5.83 ERA, 73 K)

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