Half an inning after the Washington Nationals rallied to tie things up at 2-2 in the top of the seventh this afternoon, the Cincinnati Reds scored six in the home-half of the frame to run away with the finale in Great American Ball Park.
The win gave the Reds, who came into the series having dropped 10 of their last 11, a sweep of the three-game set with the NL East-leading Nationals.
Tanner Roark gave up two runs on two home runs in six innings of work in his second start of the season, but he left with the game tied.
The Reds rallied against the Nats' bullpen. With Danny Espinosa playing him up the middle, Marlon Byrd hit a slow roller to the right side of the infield and reached on an infield single, but he was forced out at second on a popped-up bunt by Billy Hamilton that Aaron Barrett dropped unintentionally.
The result was having a much better runner on the basepaths in Hamilton, who stole second and then scored the eventual winning run on an RBI single to left by Brandon Phillips for the first run of the six.
"Byrd hits the ball of the end of the bat in no-man's land and then we get the bunt popped up," Matt Williams told reporters after the loss.
"But when we don't catch it, it's the worst of the scenarios, because then you've got Hamilton on first and he steals second and it puts pressure and then he's going to third and the ball is in the hole, it's baseball, it happens that way sometimes."
Matt Grace replaced Barrett after Phillips' single and walked Joey Votto before giving up back-to-back doubles by Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce that blew the game open. Barrett was charged with two earned runs in a ⅓ of an inning of work and Grace gave up four on three hits and two walks.
Williams acknowledged after the game that the bullpen is beleaguered.
"They've been pushed, with the short starts and with the spot start, pushed a lot on this road trip and it helps if we go deep in a game from a starter's perspective, that didn't happen much on the road trip, so they've been pressed into duty. So, a little blip, got two out of three in Chicago and came here and things didn't go our way, but we've got a chance to correct that tomorrow."
It was a particularly tough outing for Grace, who failed to retire any of the five batters he faced.
"He's just not finding the zone enough and then when he does the ball is up," Williams said.
"That was the case today. We were really limited in the bullpen today anyway, and again, it all started with the ball off the end of the bat and that sets their inning up.
"It's the game, it's the way it goes and we can stop that tomorrow by playing well and seeing if we can get a win."
The three-straight losses in Cincinnati left the Nationals 28-22 on the year and 18-9 in the month of May.
They start a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays tomorrow in the nation's capital with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
• We talked about the ugly loss in GABP, the Nationals' approach against Reds' starter Michael Lorenzen and more on Nats Nightly after today's game: