The Cincinnati Reds had to avoid being no-hit by Max Scherzer in Washingto D.C. on Monday afternoon and lost,5-1, at Nationals Park in a make-up game from a rainout earlier in the year.
The Reds(63-93) dropped their ninth straight and have fallen to last place in the NL Central. During that stretch they have been outscored 64-21 and things don’t look that optimistic in their future with the Cubs (90-65) coming to Cincinnati on Tuesday for the Reds final home series.
Scherzer (13-12), who already pitched a no-hitter this year against Pittsburgh (95-61), held the Reds hitless until the eighth inning. He allowed just one run on two hits and had eight strikeouts. On the other side, Brandon Finnegan(4-2) dropped his second straight start and went just five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits.
Perhaps the Nationals (80-76) were taking out their aggression on the Reds who aided the Mets in clinching the NL East after New York swept Cincinnati over the weekend. On Sunday, Washington took its frustrations out on each other as reliever Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper where involved in a dugout fracas in the eighth inning. The Nationals suspended Papelbon for four games on top of his three game suspension for hitting Manny Machado to end the former Red Sox closer’s season.
Finnegan held the Nationals in check through the first three innings, but had to wiggle out of jams in the second and third. He was not as fortunate in the fourth when Matt den Dekker doubled home the game’s first run, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple. After Scherzer reached on an infield single, his second hit of the game, Michael Taylor helped his pitcher with an RBI single to make it 2-0. Wilson Ramos added a solo homer with two outs in the fifth inning to close the book on Finnegan.
The first batter Jumbo Diaz faced, den Dekker, launched a solo blast to extend the lead to four. Burke Badenhop worked around a leadoff double in the seventh to at least keep the Nats within striking distance.
With one out in the eighth, Tucker Barnhart got the offense started as he singled to break up the no-hit bid by Scherzer. Barnhart moved to second on a fielder’s choice and then scored on the Reds second hit of the game, an RBI single by Skip Schumaker. The rally stopped their as Ivan De Jesus Jr. grounded out to end the inning.
Manny Parra became the third Reds pitcher victimized by den Dekker, who started the bottom of the inning with a double. Two batters later den Dekker scored to make it 5-1 Washington.
Joey Votto tried to start the comeback with a leadoff single against Matt Thornton, but Jay Bruce grounded into a game-ending double play to send the Reds packing.
The Reds now return to Great American Ballpark for the final time this season for a three-game set with the playoff bound Cubs. Dan Haren (9-9, 3.83 ERA) will try to help Chicago inch closer to the Pirates for home field advantage during the one game Wild Card. Haren will be opposed by Josh Smith (0-2, 7.23 ERA), who started the last game the Reds won back on Sept. 19, although he earned a no decision in the contest. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.