The Cincinnati Reds mustered only four runs over their weekend series with the Washington Nationals who capped the series victory with a 4-2 win on Sunday at Great American Ballpark.
The Reds (52-52) did snap their seven-game losing streak Saturday when Johnny Cueto blanked the Nationals (57-45), but only got one run of support in the, a Brayan Pena RBI single. The Reds were 3-12 (.250) over the weekend which was actually a marked improvement from their 2-40 (.050) showing in the first six games since the All-Star break.
Sunday's contest was actually well pitched by Mat Latos (2-3), but his growing frustration throughout the game was his biggest enemy. It started in the third when Skip Schumaker committed a two-out error to put runners on first and second. Latos' was seen swiping at the ground in anger after the miscue. He was able to avoid any trouble by getting Jayson Werth to fly out and end the inning.
On the other side, Doug Fister (10-2) was coasting allowing just three hits over seven innings to keep the pressure all on Latos. It all boiled over in the fifth when Fister laid down a one-out sacrifice bunt. Latos initially looked to second where it looked as though Danny Espinosa would have been out, but shortstop Ramon Santiago moved towards third to cover a charging Todd Frazier while Schumaker moved over towards first to back up the throw. An angry Latos settled for the play at first and then walked Denard Span on a full count before drilling Anthony Rendon to load the bases for Werth.
Latos thought he struck out Werth for the final out, but the inside pitch was ruled ball four to bring in the first run. Adam LaRoche dealt the decisive blow when he hit an opposite field two run single to make it 3-0. After getting Ian Desmond to fly out to deep center field, Latos exchanged some choice words for home plate umpire Toby Basner.
Jumbo Diaz and Sam LeCure came on in relief of Latos and pitched a scoreless inning of relief as each erased their only base runner with a double play. Carlos Contreras did not have the same luck as Schumaker's committed another two out error to keep an inning alive. This time it proved costly as Nate McLouth came home to score on an RBI single by Rendon for the 4-0 lead.
Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth, but Aaron Barrett was not so fortunate in the ninth as the Reds bats finally came to life. Barrett only faced two batters as Frazier and Jay Bruce each singled to start the inning. Rafael Soriano came on for his 25th save of the season, but it wasn't easy as he allowed both runners to score three pitches in to his appearance when Devin Mesoraco just missed a three-run homer and instead settled for a two-run double to cut the lead in half. Donald Lutz would move Mesoraco over to third, but Chris Heisey flew out to Span to end the game and the series with Washington.
The Reds will finally face a team with a losing record in the second half as they welcome the Arizona Diamondbacks (45-60) to Great American Ballpark for a three game set. The Diamondbacks have cooled off since sweeping the Cubs to start the post All-Star break season and have lost four of their last six including three of their last four. Chase Anderson (6-4, 3.58 ERA) will face Homer Bailey (8-5, 4.22 ERA) in the series opener on Monday.
Not appearing against the Reds will be Bronson Arroyo. He underwent season ending Tommy John Surgery at the beginning of the month and made his first trip ever to the disabled in his 14 year career with a back injury earlier this season. Arroyo was one of the three pitchers the Reds handed a loss to when they took three of four in Arizona.