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Nationals take 2 of 3 from Reds with 4-2 win in GABP: Doug Fister throws seven scoreless

A two-out rally against Cincinnati Reds' right-hander Mat Latos in the fifth provided all the run-support Doug Fister would need as the Washington Nationals' 30-year-old righty held the Reds scoreless through seven in what ended up a 4-2 win in GABP.

Jul 27, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning at Great American Ball Park.
Jul 27, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Doug Fister (58) throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the second inning at Great American Ball Park.
Photo © David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Bench Appreciation Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Cincinnati Reds' right-hander Mat Latos started the series finale in Great American Ball Park, two words, with four hitless innings of work on the mound this afternoon before Danny Espinosa singled to start the top of the fifth. Washington rallied later in the frame with Denard Span walking with two down, Anthony Rendon taking a HBP in the ribs and Jayson Werth working back from an 0-2 count to draw a two-out walk that forced Espinosa in for the Nationals' first run, 1-0.

Adam LaRoche followed with a two-run single over third and into short left that made it 3-0 Nats after four and a half innings in Ohio.

Doug Fister held the Reds off the board through seven scoreless, giving up three hits and a walk while striking out five and inducing 11 ground ball outs. Tyler Clippard took over for the Nats on the mound in the eighth and the Nationals added a run on a two-out RBI single to right by Anthony Rendon, 4-0.

Aaron Barrett gave up back-to-back singles in the Reds' ninth and Rafael Soriano gave up a two-run double by Devin Mesoraco after taking over on the mound, 4-2.

4. Coors to GABP: Doug Fister threw five scoreless innings on 59 pitches last time out in Denver, Colorado's Coors Field, but gave up five hits and two runs and was 26 pitches into the sixth inning with two down when Nationals' manager Matt Williams went to the 'pen and ended Fister's outing. A single to center by Carlos Gonzalez, on which Fister twisted his ankle while avoiding the ball, seemed to play a part in ending Fister's time on the mound. CarGo's hit put runners on the corners with one down and consecutive RBI singles followed as the Rockies rallied to cut the Nationals' 4-0 lead in half.

"He works fast. He changes speeds. He's aggressive within the strike zone, lets his pitches work for him. He's got great angle." -Williams on Fister after May start vs Reds

After what ended up a 7-2 Nats' win, Williams was asked by reporters what the role the ankle issue, among other things, may have played in Fister's issues in subsequent at bats.

"I don't know," Williams said. "He was on the bases a lot, he ran the bases a lot. All those things contribute. Light air, all of it. I think the ball started to elevate a bit. That's why they got some hits."

Fister earned the win over the Rockies, improving to (9-2) on the year and stretching his current unbeaten streak to five starts over which he's (4-0) with the Nationals 4-1. Over the course of the streak, the 30-year-old right-hander acquired from the Tigers in a 3-for-1 deal this winter has put up a 2.67 ERA with five walks (1.34 BB/9) and 16 Ks (4.28 K/9) in 33 ⅔ IP over which opposing hitters have a combined .271/.309/.364 line.

On the year, heading into today's start against the Reds in the series finale in Cincinnati, Fister, in his first season in the National League, had walked just 10 batters (1.08 BB/9) in 13 starts and 83 ⅓ IP, striking out 49 (5.29 K/9) and posting a 2.92 ERA, a 4.03 FIP and a .263/.293/.408 line against.

"We talked all spring and the beginning of the season about his angle and he's so tall and the ball kind of just fades out of the strike zone sometimes." - Matt Williams on Fister after start vs Reds in May

On the road before today's turn in Great American Ball Park, the 6'8'' starter was (4-2) with a 3.35 ERA, 4.82 FIP, seven walks (1.30 BB/9) and 25 Ks (4.66 K/9) in 48 ⅓ IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .296/.330/.466 line.

His start against the Reds this afternoon was just the second of his major league career, and the second this season after he held Cincinnati to six hits and two runs in seven innings of work back on May 20th in the nation's capital.

Fister's first outing in GABP began with a grounder to second...

1st: Billy Hamilton grounded out to Danny Espinosa at second for out no.1 of the Reds' first. Skip Schumaker took an 0-2 fastball for a called strike three. Todd Frazier lined a two-out single to right to get Jay Bruce to the plate, but Bruce's grounded to first ended a 15-pitch frame.

2nd: Reds' catcher Devin Mesoraco K'd swinging at an 0-2 cutter. Bryce Harper tracked back and caught a fly to left off Jack Hannahan's bat on the track for out no.2. Donald Lutz worked the count full and drew a two-out walk, but Ramon Santiago's fly to Denard Span in center ended a 15-pitch second that left Fister at 30 pitches total.

3rd: Mat Latos grounded back to the mound to start the Reds' third. Billy Hamilton bunted back to Fister for out no.2. Skip Schumaker sent a one-hopper out to Ian Desmond at short for out no.3 of a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 third. 37 pitches total for Fister after three.

4th: Todd Frazier grounded out to third to start the Reds' fourth. Jay Bruce sent a fly ball out to Jayson Werth for out no.2. Devin Mesoraco's groundout to short ended an 11-pitch frame. 48 total for Fister after four.

5th: Jack Hannahan battled for nine pitches before striking out on a sinking fastball from Fister. Donald Lutz sent a one-hop liner to first and Fister got over to cover for out no.2. Ramon Santiago's fly to center made it three quick outs, 10 straight batters set down and 13 of the last 14 retired. 15-pitch frame, 63 total after five.

6th: Pinch hitter Kris Negron popped to short right to start the Reds' sixth. Billy Hamilton grounded to short for out no.2 and the 12th straight out. Skip Schumaker stepped in with two out and singled through second to end Fister's streak of retired batters at 12. Todd Frazier ripped a one-hop liner to third, but Anthony Rendon jumped on it, popped up and got the force at second for out no.3. #GG3B. 16-pitch sixth for Fister, 79 total after six.

7th: Jay Bruce battled for eight pitches before striking out on a 2-2 cutter from Fister. Devin Mesoraco lined a one-out single to the left-center gap for the third hit off Fister. Jack Hannahan grounded into a force at second for out no.2. Donald Lutz was punched out on a check-swing strike three for out no.3 of a 25-pitch seventh. 104 pitches total.

Doug Fister's Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 104 P, 76 S, 11/4 GO/FO.

3. Latos vs the Nats: Surgeries on his right elbow and left knee delayed the start of 26-year-old Cincinnati Reds' starter Mat Latos' sixth major league season until June 14th, so he missed the Reds' visit to the nation's capital in May. Before this season the San Diego Padres' '06 11th Round pick, acquired by Cincinnati in a December 2011 trade that sent first baseman Yonder Alonso, right-hander Brad Boxberger, catcher Yasmani Grandal and righty Edinson Volquez out west, faced the Nationals six times, going (3-1) with a 2.34 ERA, 17 walks and 32 Ks in 34 ⅔ IP over which he held Washington's hitters to a combined .211/.307/.325 line.

On the year in 2014, Latos entered the series finale in Great American Ballpark with a (2-2) record, a 3.15 ERA, 3.38 FIP, seven walks (1.38 BB/9) and 26 Ks (5.12 K/9) in seven starts and 45 ⅔ IP. At home in GABP, the 6'6'' righty was (1-0) with a 4.82 ERA and a 5.12 FIP in three starts and 18 ⅔ IP in which he walked six (2.89 BB/9), struck out 10 (4.82 K/9) and held opposing hitters to a .229/.293/.435 line.

Latos began today's outing with a scoreless 15-pitch first in which he pitched around a one-out walk to Anthony Rendon with some help from his defense and more bad baserunning by the Nationals.

Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa K'd swinging for the first and third outs of a 16-pitch, 1-2-3 second by the Reds' right-hander, who was up to 31 pitches overall after two.

Denard Span walked with two down in the third, and Anthony Rendon reached on a high throw to first by Reds' second baseman Skip Schumaker. Jayson Werth stepped in with two on and two out after the throwing error, but sent a fly to left that Donald Lutz caught to end a 20-pitch frame by Latos, which left him at 51 pitches overall after three.

Ramon Santiago went a long way to get it, but made an impressive over-the-shoulder catch on a pop to left off Bryce Harper's bat to end a 13-pitch fourth by Latos, who was up to 64 pitches total after four innings in which he hadn't allowed a hit.

Danny Espinosa sent a soft liner to center for a leadoff single and the Nationals' first hit of the game in the top of the fifth, and one out later Doug Fister bunted Espinosa over to second/gave up an out. Denard Span battled for seven pitches and walked with two down and Anthony Rendon took a fastball to the ribs to load the bases for Jayson Werth. Werth fell behind 0-2 quickly, spit on two straight sliders (that were close) to get to 2-2 and then a full count before walking to force in the game's first run. 1-0. Adam LaRoche followed with a two-run single to right and the Nationals took a 3-0 lead. 23-pitch frame, 87 total after five innings.

After a frustrating fifth, Latos came back out with a 12-pitch sixth in which he gave up a two-out single but stranded the runner. That was it for the Reds' right-hander, who was up to 99 pitches at that point.

• Mat Latos' Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 Ks, 99 P, 62 S, 5/4 GO/FO.

2. DNA Sample: The Nationals' aggressive approach to baserunning as a team seemed to hurt them in Saturday's loss to the Reds. Bryce Harper, in particular, made a few bad decisions when he did reach base, and a designed play to get a runner in scoring position late in the game didn't go their way either, but after the loss, skipper Matt Williams said they're not going to change their approach.

"It's DNA," the first-year manager said. "It's part of our DNA. We're going to be aggressive. Sometimes it works -- we talked about it not too long ago, how good it was -- sometimes it bites you. So, we can't change the way we play. It's aggressive by nature and it's the way we want to go about it and we're not going to change that."

The "over-aggressive" side of that approach which hurt them yesterday cost the Nationals again early this afternoon.

TOOTBLAN No.1: Anthony Rendon worked his way back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk in the top of the first, stole second (SB no.10) and then got himself thrown out at third trying to advance on a Jayson Werth grounder to short. #moreTOOTBLAN.

TOOTBLAN No.2: Denard Span walked to start the Nationals' seventh, but was doubled up in the next at bat when Anthony Rendon lined to left for what looked like a hit until Reds' left fielder Donald Lutz made a leaping catch at the track. A strong relayed throw back to first caught Span for a 7-6-3 DP.

1. The Wrap-Up: Big Reds' right-hander Jumbo Diaz took over on the mound for the Reds in the top of the seventh and walked Denard Span to start the inning, but Span was doubled up on a hard-hit liner to left off Anthony Rendon's bat when he ran like he thought it was a sure hit and couldn't make it back to first. A swinging K from Jayson Werth on a 99 mph heater ended a 13-pitch inning.

Sam LeCure threw a scoreless top of the eight for the Reds.

Tyler Clippard came on for the Nationals in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a one-out single by pinch hitter Brayan Pena before getting the final two outs of a scoreless 21-pitch eighth.

Carlos Contreras took over in the ninth, but a two-out error and walk put two runners on in front of Anthony Rendon, who lined an RBI single to right for a 4-0 lead.

Aaron Barrett gave up a leadoff single to right by Todd Frazier in the bottom of the ninth and a Jay Bruce single through the right side of the infield before the Nationals turned to Rafael Soriano...

Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano! Strike'em out, Soriano!!

Reds' catcher Devin Mesoraco took a 1-1 slider to left-center for a two-run double that cut the Nationals' lead to 4-2.

Jack Hannahan K'd swinging/chasing a 1-2 cutter out of the zone. Donald Lutz grounded out to first for out no.2. Chris Heisey stepped in with two down and sent out no.3 out to Denard Span in center. Ballgame.

Work's done! Untuck that jersey, son!! Save no. 24 of 2014.

Nationals now 57-45