CINCINNATI - Well, that didn’t take long.
Three batters into the game, the Nationals had a 3-0 lead over the Reds courtesy of a Bryce Harper home run. Brian Goodwin doubled, Stephen Drew singled and Harper crushed his 23rd homer of the season over the wall in right field.
The blast extended Harper’s hitting streak to 12 games and his on-base streak to 20 games.
Reds right-hander Scott Feldman’s next pitch, to Ryan Zimmerman, was deposited into the seats in left for a solo homer. It was Zimmerman’s 20th of the season and the 235th of his career, making him the new franchise leader in that category. He had been tied atop the leaderboard with Vladimir Guerrero.
Daniel Murphy walked, went to second on Anthony Rendon’s dunker to left and scored - yes, from second - on a sac fly by Matt Wieters. Right fielder Scooter Gennett made a diving grab and third base coach Bobby Henley windmilled an alert Murphy around third to make it 5-0. Credit to both Murphy and Henley for being alert enough to take the opportunity.
Update: Eugenio Suárez got one back for the Reds in the second, lining an 0-2 pitch from Strasburg over the fence in right-center for his 13th homer. It’s 5-1 Nationals.
Update II: More weirdness in the fourth, when Raburn led off with a double and wound up on third base with a triple.
As Raburn raced into third, left fielder Adam Duvall gloved the ball that had bounced off the wall in left-center and held onto it. It looked like center fielder Billy Hamilton was briefly in his throwing path, too close to him. Raburn hit second and broke into a home run trot, perhaps mistakenly believing no throw meant his second homer of the series. The throw came into third and bounced as Raburn hustled to the bag safely. Alas, he was stranded there.
Update III: Almost lost in the shuffle of today’s early start was news that Rendon was named National League Player of the Week. Rendon was 7-for-11 (.636) with a double, three homers, three walks and four runs scored in the three weekend games that constitute All-Star Game Week (face it, “Player of the Weekend” doesn’t have the same ring to it). He reached base in 10 of 14 plate appearances. It’s Rendon’s first Player of the Week honor, and he becomes the third National to win the award this season, following first baseman Zimmerman (April 24-30) and right fielder Harper (April 17-23).
Update IV: Goodwin hit a solo homer to right in the sixth for a 6-1 cushion. The 13 home runs the Nats have hit this series are tied for the second-most in a four-game series in team history. They hit 15 in a 2012 four-game series versus the Cubs.
Update V: Strasburg is out after seven innings. He allowed a run on four hits, walked one and struck out 11. Strasburg threw 105 pitches, 68 for strikes.
Update VI: The Nats finish off a four-game sweep with a 6-1 victory over the Reds.