The bats come alive in Cincinnati (Nats win 7-3, plus Harper update)

The Nationals have scored in all four innings thus far tonight, have hit two home runs and lead the Reds 7-1 as we go to the top of the fifth.

It’s fun to hit in the Great American Ballpark, all right.

Washington got on top 3-0 in the top of the first inning on Roger Bernadina’s two-run home run and Adam LaRoche’s RBI double. Bernadina has now homered in two straight games, and he added another RBI when his single to left plated Wilson Ramos in the second.

Think Bernadina wants to grab ahold of that left field job?

Danny Espinosa got in on the action in the third, smacking a two-run homer to right. It’s just Espinosa’s second longball of the year and ups his RBI total to four on the season.

LaRoche’s second base hit of the ballgame plated Ian Desmond in the fourth, giving the Nationals’ first baseman 23 RBIs on the season and giving Washington a 7-0 lead.

The Reds got one back in the fourth off Gio Gonzalez, who has labored through four innings. Gonzalez’s pitch count has risen quickly tonight, but like Stephen Strasburg last night, he’s had his strikeout pitches working.

Gonzalez watched Strasburg strike out seven Pirates in a row last night, and the lefty countered by striking out six Reds in a row tonight. Five of the Ks came on the heater, one came on the curve.

The Nationals have now hit 10 homers in their last six games, and the bats have them out to a big lead tonight.

Update: The Reds chipped away as this game went on and had plenty of opportunities to make things really interesting, but Nationals pitchers worked out of a few jams, and Washington held on for a 7-3 win.

Washington’s hurlers stranded 11 Cincinnati runners in this one, and the Reds went just 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Gonzalez was only able to go five innings, but Craig Stammen threw 2 1/3 solid frames, and Ryan Mattheus and Sean Burnett combined to get the final five outs and close this thing out.

Washington’s infield defense was spectacular, with Desmond, Espinosa, LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman all chipping in with fantastic plays in the field.

After that three-game slide earlier this week, the Nats have now won two in a row and improve to 20-12 on the season.

Update II: After tonight’s game, Davey Johnson said on MASN’s “Nats Xtra” that late in the game, Bryce Harper hit a wall with his bat in frustration, and got hit in the left eye with a piece of the bat.

Harper was pulled from the game in the ninth inning with Xavier Nady taking over in right. The 19-year-old Harper will likely need to miss a couple games, according to Johnson.

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