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Suarez leads Cincinnati Reds past Washington Nationals

By
Elliott Smith, The Sports Xchange
Cincinnati Reds Eugenio Suarez (7) and Brandon Phillips play rock paper scissors after the Red defeated the Washington Nationals 3-2, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2015. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Cincinnati Reds Eugenio Suarez (7) and Brandon Phillips play rock paper scissors after the Red defeated the Washington Nationals 3-2, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2015. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- One thing Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price knew about Eugenio Suarez when the shortstop was promoted from Triple-A Louisville in June was that his new player wouldn't be afraid to swing the bat.

"He's been getting timely hits, driving in runs and showing a little bit of power," Price said.

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Suarez did all of that Monday, collecting three hits and driving in two runs, including the go-ahead, eighth-inning home run as the Reds continued their surprising mastery of the Washington Nationals in a 3-2 triumph.

The slight Suarez will never be mistaken for anyone's idea of a power hitter, but he connected on an 0-2 pitch from Washington reliever Casey Janssen (0-2) in the eighth and hit a soaring shot just over the wall and inside the left field foul pole to put the Reds ahead late in a tight contest.

"My first reaction was that I popped it up because I hit it in front and (did) not hit it well," Suarez said. "I don't know, God helped me with that ball, because I got a home run."

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Suarez is hitting .408 (20-for-49) in his past 14 games, raising his average to .329. He singled in the second inning but was picked off by Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos as Reds pitcher Anthony DeScalfani attempted a sacrifice bunt.

He would atoned for that mistake by driving in a run with a sixth-inning single off Nationals starter Doug Fister to give the Reds a 2-1 lead.

"I feel really blessed right now," Suarez said. "I'm feeling comfortable and I'm working hard every day on my approach at the plate."

Manny Parra (1-1) tossed one inning for the win as part of a four-pitcher effort in relief of DeSclafani, who yielded two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

Newly minted All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth inning for his 17th save, and the last-place Reds improved to 4-0 against the National League East-leading Nationals this season after being swept in a weekend series by the Milwaukee Brewers.

"You're always chasing that next win, and more than anything it doesn't matter if it was against the Nationals or any other team, it was just good to win," Price said.

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Second baseman Danny Espinosa hit his ninth homer of the season for Washington, which saw center fielder Denard Span (back spasms) and third baseman Yunel Escobar (left hamstring tightness) make early exits during the game.

Fister went six innings, allowing eight hits and two runs (one earned) while striking out two and walking one.

"For me, there's some inconsistency on the mound," he said. "I'm not making quality pitches at times that are needed, especially. Just fighting with myself a lot. I'm trying to get the ball down and really try to get in a rhythm, and it's a battle for me. I've got a lot of work to do in the next five days."

After a 29-minute rain delay in the first inning, both teams capitalized on mistakes to get on the board.

The Reds scored in the second inning thanks to an error by the normally sure-handed Fister. Cincinnati catcher Brayan Pena chopped a ball in front of the plate that Fister grabbed, but perhaps not realizing he had the slow Pena lumbering down the line, Fister hurriedly threw the ball past first baseman Clint Robinson and down the right field line, allowing Pena to move to second. Pena later scored on a single by DeSclafani.

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The Nationals used a two-out rally in the third to even things up.

Left fielder Matt den Dekker and Escobar reached on singles. After a walk by right fielder Bryce Harper loaded the bases, DeSclafani bounced a curveball into the dirt and off Pena's chest in front of home plate. A hustling den Dekker took advantage of the wild pitch and just beat the throw home with a hard slide.

"Opportunity knocks, and he's ready," Nationals manager Matt Williams said of den Dekker, who entered the game after Span's exit. "It's not ideal and not the way we planned it today, but sometimes you have to adjust."

NOTES: Nationals RHP Max Scherzer was selected to the National League All-Star team by Giants manager Bruce Bochy after going 9-6 over the season's first half. "It's awesome. It's one of the highest honors in the game to be selected to play in an All-Star Game," Scherzer said. ... Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman was named to the NL team before earning his 17th save Monday night. ... Washington RF Bryce Harper said he would not participate in this year's Home Run Derby, primarily due to the fact that his father recently had rotator cuff surgery and could not throw to him. "He knows my sweet spot," Harper said. ... The Reds recalled OF Yorman Rodriguez from Triple-A Louisville and optioned RHP Josh Smith to Double-A Pensacola. ... The Nationals put RHP David Carpenter on the paternity list and recalled LHP Sammy Solis from Double-A Harrisburg.

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