WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals will try to win their fourth straight game for the first time since the end of May when they host the Cincinnati Reds in the second contest of their four-game series Friday night.
The Nationals defeated the Reds 10-4 on Thursday night and have won six of their last eight games, outscoring their opponents 67-25. They have won eight straight against the Reds dating back to last season.
Washington left-hander Gio Gonzalez (6-7, 3.78 ERA) opposes right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (4-3, 5.47) as the Nationals (55-53) try to gain ground on the Phillies and Braves in the NL East.
Gonzalez hasn't won since May 28 but turned in a solid effort last time out against the Marlins when he allowed a run on three hits over seven innings, earning a no-decision in a 2-1 loss.
"It's definitely, moving forward, it's definitely good progress," Gonzalez told MLB.com. "Still working on little things, but it's progress, definitely something positive."
Gonzalez is 5-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 10 starts against the Reds.
DeSclafani allowed three runs and five hits over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Phillies last Friday. He struck out seven and walked two but was lifted after throwing 87 pitches and allowing a pair of one-out hits in the fifth.
"It's trying to win the game," manager Jim Riggleman told MLB.com. "I don't care who's pitching. We can leave him in there, try to get five (innings) and get a win and all that, but at most, the pitch count was getting to a place where I thought -- if I let him try to pitch through it -- he might get one more, probably not. I felt like that was the game right there."
DeSclafani is 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in six games (three starts) against Washington.
The Nationals won Thursday's opener behind Max Scherzer, who won his 15th game. Scherzer allowed two runs over six innings and struck out 10 in the latest of a series of strong efforts by Washington starting pitchers.
"The backbone of a team is always the starting staff," Scherzer told the Washington Post. "And if we go out there and do our job, it allows everybody else to show their strength."
The Nationals failed to gain ground on the Phillies and Braves, and remain five games out of first.
Cincinnati rookie right-hander Tyler Mahle didn't make it through the second inning, allowing six runs on four hits. It was the fourth straight tough outing for Mahle (7-9). His timing is poor as Riggleman is considering going from a six- to five-man rotation.
"We'll talk about it," Riggleman told the Cincinnati Enquirer of the possible rotation change. "I haven't really discussed that with (with general manager Nick Krall and special advisor Walt Jocketty). If that comes up, it will be considered. At this point, it's something we haven't talked about."
Thursday's game was a homecoming for Riggleman, who resigned as manager of the Nationals in 2011 when they would not offer more than a one-year contract. He grew up in nearby Rockville, Md.