More on Turner's finger, Corbin's slider and the Nats bullpen

CINCINNATI - Trace the Nationals' season back to before shortstop Trea Turner broke his right index finger. Turner broke the finger when getting hit by a pitch in the first inning of the fourth game of the season on a pitch by Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin.

Prior to that play, Turner was setting himself up for a very good season. He may still be able to get to that great season with more than 100 games to play, but that moment certainly placed an unfortunate detour on an incredibly positive beginning.

In the season-opening Mets series, Turner slashed .385/.429/.923 with a double, two homers, four stolen bases and four RBIs.

Since being hit by that pitch, Turner has hit .270 - which is good - but he has had only four stolen bases, no homers with three RBIs, striking out 10 times since May 17. Turner's OPS is .365 and he has committed five errors, including a costly mistake early in the Nats' 9-3 loss here to the Reds on Friday night.

Trea-Turner-Throws-at-NYM-Gray-Sidebar.jpgNationals skipper Davey Martinez said Turner's finger is not the issue with all these errors since his return, and that he just needs more game reps and at-bats.

"He's just got to get out there and play," Martinez said. "He missed seven weeks. I think everything he's been through already, he's doing really well. We need him and he understands that. I told him just go out there and play baseball like you typically can and to his defense he has no excuses whatsoever. He never says anything about his finger; he goes out there and plays."

* It may have come in lower-leverage situations - with the Reds not motivated for high-intensity at-bats after building a big early lead in their win over the Nationals - but the much maligned Nats bullpen did a very good job Friday night, combining for 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball.

Newly acquired right-hander Javy Guerra tossed a season-high 3 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits. He walked two - one intentional - and struck out two, throwing 52 pitches, 32 for strikes. He came in to the game in the third inning after starter Patrick Corbin faltered.

"I just wanted to go out there and get some outs, see what happens ... keep it close," Guerra said.

The 33-year-old said he does not mind coming in at any time in the game, even if it is in the third inning facing a major deficit.

"Absolutely, it's your job. Someone has to do it and if it's me, it's me," Guerra said. "Just got to go out there and get outs. (It's) just part of the game, follow it, watch it and be ready whenever the phone rings."

Left-hander Tony Sipp pitched for the first time since May 24 and notched a scoreless frame in the seventh. Left-hander Matt Grace followed with an identical 1-2-3 eighth inning.

"We are all in it together, one day at a time just put it past us and move on and go get 'em tomorrow," Guerra said of the bullpen.

"Our bullpen was really, really good, by the way," Martinez said. "Javy was amazing. He gave us the innings we needed. Sipp comes in, throws the ball well. Grace comes in, throws the ball well. Kudos to those guys. That was huge for them to come in and do that."

In the fifth inning, Guerra demonstrated his hitting ability with a nice sacrifice bunt that moved Victor Robles and Yan Gomes into scoring position.

"I was able to get the bunt down, so that was huge," Guerra said. "For me, it was one of those things, just put your nose in it and see what happens."

* Left fielder Juan Soto had another impressive night at the plate with three hits in four at-bats, including a single, a double and his 10th homer. He is riding a career-high 14-game hit streak.

"He doesn't go up there trying to hit home runs," Martinez said. "But if you see where he's hitting them, he's staying up the middle of the field, which I like a lot."

Soto's hit streak is the longest by a player under 21 since Manny Machado's 14-game hit streak in May 2013 for the Orioles. With the homer Friday against the Reds, Soto has now hit a homer against 12 different teams.

* It was strange for Corbin to struggle after rolling to a 5-2 season start, highlighted by last week's complete-game 5-0 shutout of the Marlins. On Friday night, he lasted a season-low 2 2/3 innings, giving up eight runs (six earned) on 11 hits. Turner spoke about what he saw with Corbin's usually unhittable slider.

"Yeah, it was weird. I talked ... today about the deception, and they seemed really good," Turner said. "I don't know if they picked something up on him or what, maybe on video, but they put together really good at-bats in the first inning. They attacked the heaters in the zone and laid off the sliders, and sometimes teams are going to have a good game plan against you and you're going to have to adjust offensively, defensively, everything, and that's the game of baseball."

Without getting the usual outs with his slider, Corbin tried to substitute with his sinker, but the Reds connected on that pitch. Curt Casali smacked a three-run homer off of Corbin in the five-run first inning.

"I thought a couple of them were OK and some were middle of the plate, like the home run pitch," Corbin said. "I think they were kind of swinging early. I was throwing fastballs, they were putting some good swings and they're falling in. It happened so quick that it just ... I don't know. I thought we had a good game plan and didn't really get to go out and execute it like I wanted to. I'll just try to learn from this and move on."

Corbin said that despite a recent heavy workload, his arm is not tired.

"I felt good we had an extra day off this last one," Corbin said. "We have another off day coming up, so just kind of give everybody another day. I thought the bullpen did a great job after me. It's always hard when you don't do your job and guys come in and can pick you up. Just happy to see that and hopefully they're all pretty good to go tomorrow."

Corbin's 4.85 career ERA against the Reds (10 games, nine starts) is the highest against teams he has faced at least 10 times. Next closest is the Rockies at 4.73 ERA (22 games). The five runs allowed in the first inning were the most the Nats have allowed this season.

Game 58 lineups: Nats at Reds
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