Nationals pound Johnny Cueto, beat Reds 9-4 in the nation's capital

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Cueto came into tonight's start (4-0) in his last six starts with a 0.88 ERA over that stretch, but the Washington Nationals knocked the right-hander around and took the second game of three with the Cincinnati Reds in D.C., 9-4 in Nats Park.

Fister in D.C. Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: The Cincinnati Reds jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first tonight in the nation's capital when Skip Schumaker doubled to center off Washington Nationals' right-hander Doug Fister then scored on an RBI single to center by teammate Todd Frazier.

The Nats tied it up in the third, however, with Fister reaching on an error by Frazier at first and scoring on an E:5 when Ramon Santiago threw one away rushing to try to get Denard Span at first on a perfect bunt.

It was 1-1 with the Reds when Fister scored, 2-1 Nationals when Span took third on the error and then scored on a sac fly to center by Anthony Rendon.

Span was 3 for 3 vs Cueto tonight after a leadoff single in the sixth and he stole his sixth base of the season in the next at bat, taking third on an ill-advised late, errant throw by Reds' catcher Brayan Pena. After a HBP on Anthony Rendon, Jayson Werth battled for six pitches and drove Span in with an RBI single to right field in Nationals Park.

3-1 Nationals.

Tyler Moore's line drive single to right brought Rendon around to make it 4-1 Nationals.

Johnny Cueto's night ended after Danny Espinosa singled to right-center field to drive in two more runs and give the Nationals a 6-1 lead over the Reds and their right-hander, who hadn't allowed more than two runs in any of his nine starts before tonight. Jose Lobaton drove in another run with a blooper down the line in right, 7-1 Nats.

Denard Span was 4 for 4 after he drove in two more with a double to center. 9-1 Nationals.

Zack Cozart scored the second run of the game off Doug Fister in the seventh, singling, taking third on a double by Roger Bernadina and scoring on a sac fly to center by Billy Hamilton. 9-2.

The Reds added two runs on Ross Detwiler in the top of the ninth, 9-4 Nationals.

That's how it ended. 9-4 Nats. Runner match with the Reds tomorrow at 4:05 pm EDT.

• Happy Birthday, Jayson:

4. Welcome to Washington: Doug Fister's second start of the season went much better than his first in a Washington Nationals uniform, which saw the 6'8'' right-hander get knocked around by the Oakland A's on the road in the O.co Coliseum. Last time out in Chase Field in Arizona, the 30-year-old starter threw 100 pitches, struck out six and induced nine ground ball outs from the 26 batters he faced in seven innings of work in which he gave up just five hits and one earned run in what ended up being a 5-1 Nats' win in which he received no decision.

Nationals' manager Matt Williams liked what he saw from Fister on the mound.

"Really good today," he told reporters after the win. "Still, I think if you asked him, he wasn't as crisp as he wanted to be, but it was good and down in the zone, movement. We pushed him pretty good today. He feels good about it."

"Overall," Fister told reporters, "good things and bad things. Obviously some things I need to work on. Getting late in counts, getting behind a few hitters. There were some quality things that I felt -- getting on a roll and good rhythm with [Jose Lobaton], and he did a great job back there today. Letting the defense work, that's the name of the game."

Fister was matched up with Lobaton again tonight after Nats' backstop Wilson Ramos played four straight over a long weekend behind the plate. An AL-only pitcher before this season, having spent time with Seattle and Detroit before he was traded to Washington this winter, Fister had never faced the Cincinnati Reds before tonight when he took the mound in Nationals Park for his debut in front of the hometown crowd in the nation's capital.

1st: Billy Hamilton took an 0-2 fastball for a called strike three. Skip Schumacker took a first-pitch fastball to left, over Kevin Frandsen's head for a one-out double. Anthony Rendon threw wide of first on a Brandon Phillips' groundout, but Tyler Moore caught it and tagged the runner. Todd Frazier was first-pitch swinging too and he singled to center to bring Schumaker in and make it 1-0 Reds. Brayan Pena grounded to second in the next at bat, but Danny Espinosa sailed the throw. E:4. First and third with two down. Chris Heisey worked the count full, but went down swinging at an inning-ending curve.

• Randon Zim Update:

2nd: Zack Cozart flew out to center on the second pitch of the Reds' second. Ramon Santiago dumped a one-out single into short left. Johnny Cueto bunted Santiago over to second, but Billy Hamilton popped up to center on a 2-1 change to end an 11-pitch frame that left Fister at 25 pitches total after two.

3rd: Skip Schumaker went down swinging at a 2-2 cutter. Brandon Phillips grounded out weakly on a 2-2 curve. Todd Frazier battled for nine pitches before he went down swinging at a high heater. 19-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. 44 pitches overall for Fister after three.

4th: Brayan Pena's groundout to second was the Reds' 5th groundout of the game. An 88 mph 0-2 fastball got Chris Heisey looking for out no.2. Zack Cozart's groundout to short ended a 10-pitch frame that left Fister at 54 pitches total after four innings pitched.

5th: Ramon Santiago grounded out to end an eight-pitch at bat in the fifth. Groundout no.7. Johnny Cueto grounded sharply to first for out no.2 and groundout no.8. Billy Hamilton's fly to center ended a 14-pitch frame, after which Fister had retired 11 straight Reds. 68 pitches overall.

6th: Fister knocked a liner back to the mound down and recovered to throw Skip Schumaker out at first. 12 straight Reds set down, 14 of 15 retired. Brandon Phillips broke Fister's streak of retired batters up with a line drive single to center on an 89 mph 2-2 fastball. Fister fell behind Todd Frazier, 3-0, and walked the first baseman to put two runners on with one out. Brayan Pena grounded to first for out no.2 and groundout no.10. Chris Heisey stepped up with runners on second and third and grounded out to a diving Anthony Rendon, who threw to first... in time. Groundout no.11. 20-pitch frame. 88 overall for Fister after six.

7th: Zack Cozart singled on a grounder deep in the hole at short to start the seventh against Fister. After Ramon Santiago flew out to center, former Nats' outfielder Roger Bernadina doubled to right, sending Cozart to third. Cozart scored on a sac fly to right by Billy Hamilton, 9-2. Skip Schumaker grounded to first to end the Reds' seventh with Fister's 12th ground ball out of the game.

Doug Fister's Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 109 P, 72 S, 12/3 GO/FO.

3. Facing Cueto: As soon as the Nationals' 4-3 15-inning loss to the Reds last night ended, Nationals' skipper Matt Williams turned his attention towards the second game of three for Cincinnati in D.C., knowing it wasn't going to be an easy night in Nationals Park with hard-throwing 27-year-old right-hander Johnny Cueto on the mound for the visitors.

"A loss is a loss and a win is a win," Williams said. "So, the key for us will be preparing for tomorrow. We've got a tough guy tomorrow to face, so we'll get the guys some rest and get back at it."

Cueto entered the start with a (4-2) record, a 1.25 ERA (the lowest in the majors amongst qualified starters), a 2.98 FIP, 18 walks (2.25 BB/9) and 76 Ks (9.50 K/9) after nine starts and 72 IP. Cueto was coming off a complete game shutout of the San Diego Padres that was part of a stretch of six starts after he started the season (0-2) in which he was (4-0), allowing just five earned runs (0.88 ERA) in 51 IP over which he held opposing hitters to a combined .118/.168/.213 line.

In eight career starts against Washington before tonight, the seven-year veteran was (5-2) with a 3.99 ERA over 49 2/3 IP on the mound against the Nationals in which he walked 14 (2.53 BB/9), struck out 44 (7.97 K/9) and held Nats' hitters to a .274/.335/.405 line.

Denard Span singled to left on the first pitch Cueto threw tonight in Nationals Park, but three outs later he was still standing at first at the end of Cueto's 13th straight scoreless inning on the mound. A scoreless second inning gave Cueto 14 scoreless innings in a row and six set down after Span's leadoff hit. 22 pitches total after two.

Doug Fister reached base on a chopper to first that bounced off Todd Frazier's glove, breaking Cueto's streak retired batters at six. Third baseman Ramon Santiago made the second error of the inning in the next at bat, throwing one away on a Denard Span bunt. Fister was able to score from first on the error while Span took third and then scored himself on a sac fly to center by Anthony Rendon. 2-1 Nationals after three in D.C. 25-pitch frame for Cueto, 47 overall after three innings.

Cueto was up to 56 pitches after a quick, 9-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth and 68 after a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 5th.

Denard Span was 3 for 3 on the night when he singled to right on a 2-1 cutter from Cueto. Span stole his 6th base of the year with Anthony Rendon up and took third on a throwing error by Reds' catcher Brayan Pena. Cueto hit Rendon in the next at bat. Jayson Werth singled to right to drive Span in and the Nationals took a 3-1 lead on the Reds' right-hander. First time this season Cueto's allowed three runs. Danny Espinosa's two-run single to right made it 6-1 Nationals and knocked Cueto out...

Cueto's Line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 94 P, 55 S, 6/3 GO/FO.

2. Dinner Plans?: After a five hour, 15-inning marathon on Monday night, but teams seemed determined to play a quick one tonight. Two dominant pitchers on the mound helped things along. When Doug Fister was done with the top of the fifth, he'd set 11 straight Reds' hitters down. Cueto's quick bottom of the inning wrapped five innings up in just over an hour.

The Nationals sending 11 batters to the plate in the sixth stretched this one out a bit...

1. The Wrap-Up: Sean Marshall took over for Cueto in the sixth and gave up a bloop single to right by Jose Lobaton that made it 7-1 Nationals. Danny Espinosa made it 9-1 with a two-run double off Marshall.

The Reds scored their second run of the game in Fister's final inning of work in the seventh. 9-2 when he left the game.

Ross Detwiler took over for the Nationals in the top of the eighth and threw a scoreless 18-pitch frame.

Denard Span was 5 for 5 on the ninth with 10 doubles on the year after a blooper fell into center in the Nationals' eighth.

Detwiler came back out for the ninth and gave up a leadoff double by Zack Cozart in the first at bat. A wild pitch moved Cozart over to third and he scored to make it 9-3 on a groundout by Roger Bernadina.

Billy Hamilton singled in another run to make it 9-4 and knock Detwiler out. Ryan Mattheus came on to end it with two quick outs. Ballgame.

Nationals now 24-21

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