Reds go after first pitches against Fister, grab early lead (Nats win 9-4)

The Reds picked up where they left off on Tuesday against the Nationals.

Fresh off a 4-3, 15-inning marathon win Monday night (Tuesday morning), Cincinnati scored a run in its first at-bat. With one out, Skip Schumaker went after the first offering from Nationals starter Doug Fister and laced the two-seam fastball for a double to left field.

bkcap.jpgBrandon Phillips and Todd Frazier also went after the first pitch from Fister, both of which were two-seam fastballs. Phillips grounded out. But Frazier, who hit the go-ahead two-run homer late in Monday’s game, smacked a run-scoring single that scored Schumaker and the Reds led 1-0.

The Nationals had their hands full facing Reds starter Johnny Cueto, who came into Tuesday’s game with a 4-2 record and a 1.25 ERA. Cueto has recorded three complete games in his first nine starts and is 6-2 with a 3.99 ERA against the Nationals. He has won three straight decisions against the Nats. His last loss to the Nationals was in 2009.

In the first, Denard Span also went after the first offering from Cueto and singled into left field. But the Nationals then record three straight outs, and after one inning, the Reds lead 1-0.

Update: In the bottom of the third, the Nationals got going thanks to some sloppy play from the Reds. With one out, Fister reached on a fielding error by Frazier. Span then bunted to third baseman Ramon Santiago, whose throw to first was off the mark, and rolled all the way down the first base line. Fister came all the way around to score and Span ended up at third on the Santiago throwing error. The Nationals tied the game at 1-1.

Anthony Rendon added a sacrifice fly to deep center field and the Nationals lead 2-1 after three innings.

Update II: Fister has gotten into a nice groove in his first Nationals Park start. After allowing three hits in the first eight batters faced, Fister retired 11 straight hitters to get through five. He has five strikeouts and no walks. Nationals lead 2-1 after 4 1/2 innings.

Update III: Jayson Werth has hit the ball hard the whole series, but unfortunately it has been at someone. Not in the sixth inning. And that was good news for the Nationals against Cueto.

The inning started with Span’s third single. He then stole second and the Reds committed their third error, this one courtesy catcher Brayan Pena. Span raced over to third base. Rendon was hit by a pitch. Werth then slapped an opposite field single to score Span and the Nationals added to their lead 3-1.

After a strikeout, Tyler Moore notched a run-scoring single and the Nationals had a 4-1 advantage, still with only one out.

Cueto began losing control and hit Kevin Frandsen, which was his second hit batsmen in the inning. The Reds conducted another conference on the mound. It didn’t help Cueto.

Danny Espinosa contributed the biggest hit of the game with a two-run single to right center and the Nationals led 6-1. That was it for Cueto.

Reliever Sean Marshall was greeted by a bloop single from Jose Lobaton down the right field line, scoring Frandsen, and the Nationals now were up 7-1.

Following a sacrifice by Fister that moved the runners up, Span delivered a two-run single and the Nationals lead ballooned to 9-1. Span is 4-for-4 on the night.

Cueto allowed eight runs, six earned in 5 1/3 innings. He had allowed only six total runs in six April starts and hadn’t allowed more than two runs in any of his nine starts this season.

Update IV: The seven runs in the sixth inning for the Nationals was a season-high for one inning. Previous high was five runs in the eighth inning against Miami on April 10.

Fister finished seven innings on 109 pitches with 72 strikes. He allowed only six hits, two runs, both earned, with one walk and five strikeouts. Very nice, first home start for Fister and critical for the Nationals starting staff with Gio Gonzalez (shoulder) on the disabled list.

Update V: Span, have a night. He matched a career-high, going 5-for-5 thanks to a double in the eighth inning. The five hits in one game also ties a Nationals record, set in 2005.

The Reds scored a run in seventh and two in the ninth, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Former National Roger Bernadina went 1-for-2 with a double and a RBI.

Ross Detwiler pitched the eighth, but was unable to finish the ninth, only securing one out. Ryan Mattheus was brought in to get the final two outs. Zach Walters made a diving stop of a Brandon Phillips liner and threw to first to end the game.

Fister notches his first win with the Nationals, improving to 1-1. The Nationals defeat the Reds 9-4 and have won five of their last eight games. Cueto falls to 4-3, his first loss in D.C. since 2008.

They now have the opportunity to clinch their third straight series win in the rubber match with the Reds Wednesday afternoon.

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