Johnson recaps Nats’ 5-2 loss

This afternoon’s game officially lasted three hours, 27 minutes. It sure felt a good bit longer than that.

The Reds beat the Nationals 5-2 today, salvaging the final game of this four-game series and avoiding a sweep at the hands of their hosts.

It wasn’t a pretty ballgame to say the least, especially from the Nationals’ side. Ross Detwiler allowed 11 hits and four runs over five innings, Anthony Rendon and Danny Espinosa made errors, Henry Rodriguez threw four strikes in a 17-pitch outing and the Nats managed just five hits.

“They bounced back with their bats, but when Det’s not really sharp, that’s gonna happen,” manager Davey Johnson said. “A bunch of hits. But he battled ‘em, gave us five innings, kept us in the ballgame, gave us a chance to win. But there are times like that where he needs to use his whole arsenal. But he’ll get there. Tip your hat to the other guy (Reds starter Tony Cingrani). He threw a good ballgame. Threw more breaking balls than I thought, he was mostly a fastball pitcher, but he threw some pretty good breaking balls. Kept us quiet.”

Detwiler got a bit unlucky today, allowing four infield singles, but he also just lacked his good stuff.

“I mean, they hit some balls hard,” Johnson said. “The biggest mistake he made was to (Brandon) Phillips in the first inning when he had him 2-2 and he was coming in on him and left it out over the middle of the plate. He’s been so good all year long making his pitches in tough spots. And obviously we had a chance to capitalize a couple times, just didn’t do it.”

It was a rough day for Rendon, who made an error and was thrown out at the plate after slowing down rounding second base on a line drive that was dropped by Reds left fielder Xavier Paul.

“He thought he was gonna trap it and there would be a play at third, but the ball bounced away,” Johnson said. “But the footing must’ve been bad out there because every time he started to go he kind of slipped. Just didn’t get the hits. Guys up there are a little cold.”

Adam LaRoche is now in an 0-for-26 slump, with 13 strikeouts in that time. He was set down on strikes in three of his four at-bats today.

“They tell me his (history) is usually struggling coming out of the gate,” Johnson said. “Last year, he didn’t. So this is a little surprising. But he’s a veteran hitter. He’ll be fine. Going to Atlanta and Pittsburgh, two good places to break out.

“I knew it was going to be a tough matchup for him today and I said, ‘I’m most concerned about what you need.’ And he said, ‘Well sitting doesn’t do me any good. I need to play.’ And so I gave him the nod. It’s just little things. His timing is a little off. Maybe his pitch selection is a little off. Trying to make something happen. But he’s a veteran hitter and a good player. He’ll be fine. He’ll come around.”

Despite LaRoche’s struggles, Johnson said he doesn’t have any plans to take the 33-year-old out of his lineup.

“He contributes so much just defensively,” Johnson said. “I like him out there. The score could’ve been a lot worse, he made some good plays out there today. But his bat will come around. It’ll be nice to get Willy back tomorrow and we’ll get Zim soon, so it’ll be pick-up.”

Rodriguez had pitched well lately, allowing just one earned run over his last seven innings entering today’s game. He went just a 1/3 of an inning this afternoon, allowing a run and walking three.

“He’s been getting better and better, it seems like. Just completely lost it,” Johnson said.

The Nats finish the homestand having gone 3-4, but they leave town feeling pretty good about themselves after snapping a losing streak and taking three of four from a tough Reds team.

“It’s tough, breaking a new player into the lineup, kinda juggling your lineup around,” Johnson said. “But I like the way the guys have been playing. We’ll be fine.”

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