A day after Johnny Cueto was smacked around for eight runs, Alfredo Simon stepped in and shook off a leadoff homer to hold the Nationals scoreless over the next 6.2 innings and give Cincinnati a 2-1 victory in Washington on Wednesday.
Simon (6-2) continued to pitch well despite rumblings of Mat Latos' return in the near future. He fanned six in seven innings and scattered five hits, although the one was a home run by Denard Span to start the Nationals (24-22) first inning.
The Reds (21-24) shook up their lineup in the series finale as Zack Cozart hit second, Brayan Pena played first, and Roger Bernadina gave Skip Schumaker a day off in right. It will be interesting to see how Bryan Price uses his outfielder with the activation of Jay Bruce from the disabled list. The Reds made a corresponding move to make room for Bruce and placed Joey Votto on the DL.
These moves still could not help the Reds escape the rut they are in with runners in scoring position. Cincinnati was 7-48 (.145) in the series with RISP including a 2-24 showing in Monday's 15 inning marathon win. This comes after they went 1-16 in Sunday's loss in Philadelphia.
The Reds first chance came against Tanner Roark (3-2) when Todd Frazier walked, stole second, then went to third on a ground ball by Pena. Chris Heisey was the first with a RISP and was unsuccessful as he struck out to end the threat. Simon escaped his own jam in the second inning as he got Roark to bounce into an inning ending double play with the bases loaded.
After a scoreless third, Cozart started the fourth with a leadoff double and this time Brandon Phillips delivered the run home with and RBI single. An error allowed Phillips to advance to second and then Pena singled in the run to make it a 2-1 game. With Devin Mesoraco at second, both Heisey and Bernadina flew out to end the inning. Before the big inning, Price had gathered the team together for a meeting in the dugout.
The game was held up by a 61-minute rain delay, but Simon still came out and retired six of the seven hitters he faced to end his night. Johnathan Broxton came on in the eight and stranded Span at third when he struck out Wilson Ramos to end the inning. Aroldis Chapman rebounded from his blown save on Monday and retired the side in order to notch his third save of the year.
The Reds return home for a three game series with St. Louis over the Memorial Day Weekend. Shelby Miller (6-2, 2.79 ERA) takes the ball for the Cardinals and hopes to extend his six game winning streak. In fact he hasn't lost since the Reds handed him his second loss of the season back on April 9. Homer Bailey (3-3, 5.44 ERA) will look to shake off his terrible start in Philadelphia when he exited in fourth inning.