Nationals Lose 7-2 To Reds

The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Nationals 7-2 behind strong pitching and even stronger offense.

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Nationals Woeful Offense Cannot Make Up Five Run Deficit

Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Johnny Cueto pitched six innings to win his third consecutive decision and singled in two runs to lead Cincinnati over Washington, 7-2, to start a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.

Cueto (9-2) permitted four hits and two runs, walked four and fanned the same amount. The right-hander has allowed two runs or less in each of his last six starts and saw his season ERA fall to 3.39.

Jonny Gomes and Miguel Cairo hit solo homers in the sixth inning off J.D. Martin as the Reds won for the third time in four games. Gomes had three hits and scored three times, Cairo ended with two RBI, and Drew Stubbs added a two- run double.

Martin (1-5) was charged with six hits and six runs over 5 1/3 innings. Martin, who won his previous start, against San Diego on July 7, also walked three and fanned two hitters.

The Nationals, who have dropped three in a row and five of six, were blanked in their previous two games by Florida.

Gomes singled before Jay Bruce and Cairo walked to load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the second. Stubbs then doubled to right field. Ryan Hanigan walked to load the bases again before Martin gave up a low-line single to Cueto. The ball one-hopped past second baseman Cristian Guzman into right- center field for a 4-0 margin.

Nyjer Morgan's sacrifice fly and Guzman's RBI single cut the deficit in the third, but the Nationals were turned away despite a threat in the sixth inning. Walks to Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham set the two-out stage for Ivan Rodriguez, who lined a ball off the mound. The ball then caromed off second base umpire Gary Cederstrom and into right field. Zimmerman scored, but was then sent back to third because it was ruled a dead ball. Willie Harris flied out to left to end the inning.

Gomes led off the sixth and sent an 0-1 pitch over the wall in left-center. One out later, Cairo took Martin's first offering to the second deck in left field for his third homer of the year.

Cairo singled in Gomes in the eighth inning.

Reds third baseman Scott Rolen missed his third straight game Monday due to a right hamstring injury. Rolen received a cortisone shot in his hamstring and could go on the disabled list in the next few days...The game was delayed by rain for 42 minutes at the end of the third inning...Bruce is hitless in his last 16 at-bats...The Reds were 3-for-35 with runners in scoring position over their previous five games, but went 3-for-6 in those situations Monday.

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7:10 P.M.: Nationals Offense Looks To Get On Track In Cincinnati

(Sports Network) - Struggles on offense cost the Washington Nationals the chance to open the second half with a three-game sweep. Chances at the plate could be hard to come by again tonight against the Cincinnati Reds' Johnny Cueto.

Cueto will look to continue his solid season and keep the Nats off the scoreboard for a third straight contest Monday night in the opener of a four- game series at Great American Ball Park.

The 24-year-old Cueto went 8-2 with a 3.42 earned run average in the first half, going undefeated in his final four starts (2-0) before the break while pitching to a 0.83 ERA over his last five starts, allowing just three earned runs in that span.

Cueto, though, did not factor into the decision of his final two starts, including July 8 in Philadelphia. The right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits and two walks over seven innings of his team's eventual 4-3 loss in extra innings.

Cueto is 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA in four career starts versus Washington, but struggled when he last faced them. In that Aug. 15 meeting, he was drilled for seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings.

J.D. Martin got the victory for the Nationals on that day, holding the Reds to just one unearned run over six innings on his only career start versus Cincinnati. He'll seek similar results tonight after notching his first victory of 2010 on July 7 versus the Padres.

The 27-year-old righty, who had lost his first four decisions of the season, limited San Diego to a pair of runs on six hits over 5 2/3 innings and is pitching to a 3.35 ERA in seven starts this year. Martin is winless in five road starts in 2010, going 0-3 with a 3.77 ERA.

Martin may be working with limited room for error after the Nationals were shut out in back-to-back games by the Marlins over the weekend after taking Friday's opener by a 4-0 margin. Washington lost two of three despite outhitting Florida, 27-14, to begin a 10-game road trip.

Ryan Zimmerman and Cristian Guzman each had a single and stole a base for Washington, which has dropped four of five and wasted six innings of one-run ball by Craig Stammen.

"I had good breaking stuff today, good slider, good curveball," Stammen said. "My sinker was good. The wind was helping my ball move today, so it was tough on the hitters."

The Reds have also struggled offensively as of late. They dropped a pair of 1-0 games before the break, but rebounded to score 11 runs in taking the first two contests of their three-game weekend set with the Rockies. However, they suffered another 1-0 loss in Sunday's finale to lose for the fifth time in seven games overall and fall a half-game back of the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central.

"That 1-0 score is killing us right now," remarked Cincinnati skipper Dusty Baker. "In all of them we had opportunities with runners at third and less than two outs."

That includes the ninth inning, when Drew Stubbs singled with one out before going to third on Ryan Hanigan's pinch-hit base hit. Chris Heisey and Brandon Phillips then both struck out to end the game as Cincinnati stranded 10 runners in all.

Travis Wood, who got a no-decision on July 10 versus the Phillies despite taking a perfect game into the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss, gave up just a run on three hits over six innings.

The Reds were without All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen for a second straight game due to illness, while Jay Bruce was given the day off to rest. Both players could return tonight.

The Reds took two of three in Washington on June 4-6, but it was the Nationals who took three of four at Cincinnati last season.

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