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Felipe Rivero continues to struggle vs lefties; Nationals looking for answers...

Jay Bruce's three-run home run off Felipe Rivero was the first by a left-handed hitter this season, but the Washington Nationals' hard-throwing left-handed reliever has struggled against lefties early this season. Dusty Baker wants to figure out why...

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Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

In 49 appearances and 48 ⅓ innings last season, hard-throwing, Washington Nationals' lefty Felipe Rivero held left-handers to a combined .198/.242/.244 line, walking five (1.90 BB/9), striking out 23 (8.75 K/9) of the 91 left-handed batters he faced.

Right-handed hitters, 98 of them, had a combined .200/.255/.344 line against the 24-year-old lefty, with six walks (2.19 BB/9) and 20 Ks (7.30 K/9).

"We've got to figure out a way to get Rivero straight against left-handers, because we certainly need him, because he has dynamite stuff..." -Dusty Baker on Felipe Rivero's struggles vs lefties

Heading into Sunday afternoon's series finale, right-handed hitters, the 60 he'd faced this season, had a .107/.167/.250 line. Rivero had walked four (2.16 BB/9) and struck 24 (12.96 K/9).

Left-handed hitters (43 of them) had a .306/.395/.389 line against the Nationals' southpaw, however, and they'd scored 11 of the 12 runs he'd allowed through 25 ⅔ IP.

Rivero had walked two of the 43 left-handed batters he faced (2.00 BB/9) and struck out nine (9.00 K/9).

On Saturday in Cincinnati, Rivero retired the two right-handed batters he faced, but gave up a walk to Joey Votto and a single by Jay Bruce, putting two on with two out before Shawn Kelley came on and surrendered a three-run home run to put the Reds ahead, 6-3.

"He made a couple pitches that he wanted to make," Nats' skipper Dusty Baker told reporters in discussing Rivero's outing after the loss.

"You can use kind of any excuse you want to use, but Rivero walked a good hitter in Joey Votto and then he gave up a base hit to Jay Bruce."

Sunday, in the series finale in Great American Ball Park, Rivero took the mound in the seventh, walked Votto with one down and gave up a single by Brandon Phillips and a three-run home run to right-center by Bruce, who hit an 0-1 four-seamer to the back rows of the outfield seats to get the Reds within two runs at 10-8 in what ended up a 10-9 win for the Nationals.

it was the first home run of the year by a left-handed hitter off Rivero.

"We've got to figure out a way to get Rivero straight against left-handers," Baker told reporters after the game.

"Because we certainly need him, because he has dynamite stuff, we just can't figure out why he's not getting these left-handers out and he's getting right-handers out, which is his primary job.

"We'll go back to the drawing [board], [pitching coach] Mike Maddux will figure it out."

Sooner than later, hopefully. After this weekend, left-handers are 12 for 37 (.324/.422/.486) against Rivero...

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