Bryce Harper homered twice, while Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton added two-run shots Sunday as the Washington Nationals earned a weekend sweep of the host Cincinnati Reds with a 6-5 decision at the Great American Ball Park.
Gio Gonzalez picked up the win with six strong innings in his first start of the year. He gave up five hits and a run with a walk and seven strikeouts. Four relievers combined to record the final nine outs, with Sean Doolittle pitching the ninth and earning his second save despite giving up a two-run homer to Phil Gosselin.
Sal Romano was charged with the loss even though he logged a quality start. He worked six innings, permitting four hits and three runs with four walks and two strikeouts.
One of Romano’s few mistakes was a poorly located fastball to Rendon with a man aboard in the first. Rendon turned on it and launched it off the facade of the upper deck in left field, giving Washington a quick 2-0 lead.
Harper increased the edge to 3-0 in the sixth with his first homer of the season, a towering shot that landed halfway up the bleachers in right-center. He gave the run back in the bottom of the inning when he turned Adam Duvall’s warning track fly ball to right into a double, mistiming his jump and clanking the ball off his wrist as Eugenio Suarez scored.
Eaton made it a 5-1 game in the seventh with his second homer of the series, taking a Yovani Gallardo curvebal and belting it into the bleachers in right-center with Wilmer Difo aboard.
Cincinnati made a late comeback against the Nationals’ bullpen. The Reds scored two runs in the eighth inning on Billy Hamilton’s RBI double and a bases-loaded double play ball off Duvall’s bat.
Harper’s second homer of the day off Raisel Iglesias in the top of the ninth ended up being the de facto game winner. Gosselin cracked a two-out, two-strike, two-run bomb off Doolittle in the Reds’ last licks to cut the margin to a run.
However, Doolittle slipped a called third strike past Hamilton to end it.
—Field Level Media