After a rough start to the week, the Washington Nationals won their second straight game on Friday night, taking the series opener in Cincinnati. But unlike Thursday when it was the brilliance of Stephen Strasburg in a close game, the Nats jumped on Reds' starter Mike Leake early to give Gio Gonzalez a seven-run cushion. It was the Nats 20th win of the season, as they continue atop the NL East standings
Roger Bernadina started things off for Washington, hammering a Leake pitch to the power alley in right-center for the two-run lead. Adam LaRoche doubled home Ryan Zimmerman just two batters later to put a three-spot on the board before Cincinnati had even come to the plate. That production matched their first-inning runs for the entire season to date.
After Bernadina added another RBI in the second, Danny Espinosa crushed his second homer of the season to blow things open at 6-0. Espinosa has had a rough season at the plate, but he went low and hammered a Leake change-up into the right-field bleachers. It was a rocket that will hopefully kick-start the second baseman on offense.
The seven run lead was plenty for Gonzalez, who mowed down the Reds over five innings of work. Gio struck out nine Cincinnati batters, including a stretch of six straight in the second and third inning. He got a little wild later on but left the game with a five-run lead.
Lost in all the early runs was the work of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. In just his second game back after dealing with a shoulder injury, Zimmerman had an impressive three hit night.
Game 2 will be Saturday night on the Ohio River, with Jordan Zimmermann on the hill for Washington. Matt Latos will go for Cincinnati.
For more information on this series, stay tuned to this StoryStream. For more information on the Washington Nationals, check out the SB Nation blog Federal Baseball. For more on the Cincinnati Reds, check out the SB Nation blog Red Reporter. For all your news and notes on Major League Baseball, check out the Baseball Nation.