Bryce Harper went deep twice off Cincinnati Reds’ right-hander Tim Adleman, who was not around long in the series opener with the Washington Nationals in Great American Ball Park. Harper hit a 2-1 fastball to right for a two-run home run in the third (No. 21) to put the Nats up 4-0, then went deep again in the first at bat of the fifth on a heater down the middle from the Reds’ starter, 5-0, (and No. 22).
Gio Gonzalez cruised through 8 1⁄3 scoreless innings on the mound in Ohio, allowing just four hits, and running into real trouble only once as the left-hander snapped the three-start losing streak that ended his first-half of the 2017 campaign.
Stephen Drew (starting at second with All-Star infielder Daniel Murphy getting a night off) and Anthony Rendon started the scoring with back-to-back, two-out RBI singles in the first, and the Nationals cruised to their 53rd win of the season.
Nationals now 53-36
HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:
• Brian Goodwin started the second half with a line drive double to right on an 0-1 change from Reds’ right-hander Tim Adleman (No. 10 for Goody), and he took third on a groundout by Wilmer Difo before scoring on a two-out RBI liner to center by Stephen Drew, 1-0.
Anthony Rendon followed with an RBI single of his own, driving Bryce Harper in from second after Harper drew a one-out walk, 2-0.
• Bryce Harper got all of a 2-1 fastball from Adleman in the third, hitting a two-run shot to right field to put the Nationals up 4-0, after Wilmer Difo singled to start the inning. Harper’s 21st. And there was no. doubt. about. it.
Blink and you'll miss it. pic.twitter.com/AoBlM5bVvV— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 15, 2017
• Gio Gonzalez gave up a long, hard-hit double to left by Adam Duvall, who crushed a 1-0 fastball, just missing a solo home run, and a walk to Eugenio Suarez in the next at bat gave the Reds an opportunity to cut into the Nationals’ lead, but the Nats’ left-hander got Scott Schebler to chase a 1-2 curve out of the zone before Brian Goodwin made a diving grab on a liner to center by Jose Peraza to end the threat.
• Bryce Harper hit his second home run of the night out to center on a 90 mph 1-1 fastball from Adleman to lead off the fifth. Harper’s 22nd was another no-doubter that landed on the tiered grass above the center field fence to put the Nationals up 5-0.
Bryce Harper: 14 multi-HR games, passing Vladimir Guerrero for the most in a player's first six seasons in Nationals/Expos history. pic.twitter.com/zPRqaMfCJz— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 15, 2017
• Tim Adleman’s Line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 98 P, 63 S, 2/3 GO/FO.
• Asher Wojchiehowski took over for the Reds in the sixth and retired the six Nationals he faced in order in two scoreless innings of work.
• Gonzalez was up to 11-straight Reds set down after he retired the side in order in the seventh, and he came back out for the eighth at 101 pitches and he worked around an infield single to complete an eight-pitch inning that left him at 109.
• Gonzalez came back out for the ninth and retired one batter before he was done...
• Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 8.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 113 P, 74 S, 13/4 GO/FO.
• Matt Albers came with one out in the ninth and gave up back-to-back, one-out singles, and a two-out infield hit that loaded the bases, so Dusty Baker went to Matt Grace, who recorded the final out with help from Stephen Drew, who made a diving play and throw to first to end it.
NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:
- While Cincinnati holds a 43-39 advantage over Washington in the all-time series between the two teams, the Nationals have won 19 of the last 36 against the Reds over the last six seasons.
- The Reds, however, had won 5 of the last 6 games and 6 of the last 8 games against the Nationals in Great American Ball Park heading into this weekend-plus four-game series.
- Washington’s offense starts the second half leading the NL in AVG (.277), OBP (.345), SLG (.467), hits (855), extra-base hits (320), runs scored (486), and doubles (181).
- Nationals’ starters began the second half leading the majors in Ks (566), and innings pitched (541 2⁄3), and ranked second in the majors in WHIP (1.20), K/9 (9.40), opponents’ batting average (.234), opponents’ OBP (.301), and opponents’ slugging percentage (.385).
- Daniel Murphy (.342), Ryan Zimmerman (.330), and Bryce Harper (.325), finished the first half with the top three batting averages in the NL, which, according to Elias, is the first time three teammates have led their league in AVG since 1972.
- Bryce Harper started the night with an eight-game hit streak going, over which he was 13 for 30 (.433 AVG) with two doubles, two home runs and seven runs batted in over that stretch.
- Gio Gonzalez started the night (3-2) in eight career starts vs the Reds, with a 2.98 ERA and 11.05 K/9 against Cincinnati.
Nationals now 53-36