With only five base runners, including two walks, before Josh Bell’s ninth-inning solo homer, the Nats’ offense combined for a whole lot of nothing,
Reds’ starter Tyler Mahle came into the game with an unremarkable 3.75 ERA, but the Nats had him looking like José Rijo at his best. Mahle retired 10 of the first 11 Nationals, until Josh Bell came through with the Nats’ first base hit with one out in the fourth inning. But like all the other Nats’ runners in the first eight innings, he never got past first base.
Mahle allowed just three hits and a walk, striking out two over 5 1⁄3 innings.
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez gave the Reds’ right-hander all the credit.
“He threw the ball well, he mixed his pitches up, kept our hitters off-balance,” he said after the game. “We got pitches to hit, we just fouled a lot of balls off, but I thought he pitched really well.
“He mixed balls in and out, his slider was good, his split was fairly good today.”
Similarly, Lucas Sims, with a 6.48 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP had no problem with the last two Nationals’ hitters after Amir Garrett gave up Bell’s one-out homer in the ninth.
Martinez defended his team’s play, saying the Cincinnati staff made pitches when they had to.
“We’ve actually been hitting the ball pretty good as of late, and then you run into a guy like this, that kept us off-balance all night,” he said.
‘We missed some pitches that we probably should have hit. But he did well. The guy made his pitches, we couldn’t get nothing going.”
And while Max Scherzer had his typical stuff, striking out nine and walking one, the two solo homers he allowed to Kyle Farmer and Eugenio Suarez made 2-0 seem like a larger lead to overcome than any of those the Nats had faced last weekend.
“You probably don’t lose on one solo shot, but tonight I got beat on two solo shots,” Scherzer said after the game. “I got out-pitched, that’s just the way it went.
‘Even though I had a lot of good stuff tonight, did a lot of things right, Mahle [came] in and threw better than me tonight.
“You got to tip your hat to him, he did a great job on the mound, and the Suárez homer is the difference in the ballgame.”
Martinez agreed that Scherzer deserved more offense.
“For the most part when he goes out there and faces an opponent, those guys really tend to swing early, and he tries to make his pitches,” said Martinez. “If we would have scored a few runs, it would be a different story.”
Juan Soto, coming off an 0-for-5 day on Sunday, was 1-for-4, but looked lost on a pair of strikeouts.
Trea Turner was hitless for only the second time since May 13, finishing 0-for-4.
“If the guy makes good pitches it doesn’t matter what he has, it’s going to be tough to hit,” said Turner. “I didn’t feel like I got too many pitches to hit in the middle of the plate, and when I did I missed them.
“It doesn’t matter who’s out there, we got to hit, we got to put at bats together,” Turner went on.
“So it’s Max or the next guy, I don’t think it matters, we got to be a little bit better offensively and win those games.”
The box score did not contain a “Team RISP” line for the Nationals because the Nats never got a runner into scoring position. With two out, they were 0-for-8 with a walk.
“Guys definitely want to try to make something happen and get on base for the next guy,” said Martinez. “But like I said, it’s about just going out there and relaxing and just try to do your part.”