May 21: Reds (21-24) 2, Nationals (24-22) 1
Behind a tremendous start by Alfredo Simon, the Cincinnati Reds came away with a narrow 2-1 victory against the Washington Nationals on the road. Brayan Pena’s line-drive RBI single in the fourth proved to be the game-winner.
Simon surrendered the only Nationals run of the game on the second pitch of the game. He lofted a cutter that didn’t quite cut to Denard Span, and Span sent a solo shot over the right-field fence.
It was all Simon from that point on. He went on to complete seven innings and striking out six batters on 94 pitches. He gave up just five scattered hits from there.
On the Nationals side, starter Tanner Roark was pretty dominant in his own right. With the exception of his shaky fourth inning, Roark kept the Reds guessing throughout and went a solid six frames in his own right. He surrendered just one earned run and coughed up six hits.
Trailing 1-0 in the fourth, the Reds had their most productive inning of the game. Zach Cozart doubled to start things off and was then singled home on a Brandon Phillips single to center. A crucial at-bat in the inning was when Devin Mesoraco reached on a fielding error by third baseman Kevin Frandsen to allow Phillips to advance to second with no one out. That’s when Pena answered with his RBI single to left that gave the Reds the lead for good.
The Nationals couldn’t muster up any type of offense from there as they just scattered singles the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the Reds had a few opportunities to pad their lead and couldn’t capitalize. In fact, Cincy had at least one runner in scoring position in the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth frame, but could not bring anyone else home to score.
In the bottom of the ninth, with a 2-1 lead, flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman came in for the 1-2-3 save. He threw just 13 pitches and struck out two of the three batters he faced for his third save of the year.
Important things to note: Simon improved to 6-2 on the year with his seven innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.31 and has now gone at least six innings in seven of eight starts this season. It was his third time in four starts going at least seven … Jayson Werth and Span were the only starters in the Nationals lineup to have batting averages above .235. Werth went 0-for-4 and Span contributed two hits.