July 16, 2017 / 9:17 PM / 4 months ago

Preview: Nationals at Reds

Homer Bailey has an ERA approaching 8 1/2 but he’s provided the last-place Cincinnati Reds with a reason to feel optimistic over the second half of the season. Bailey will make just his fifth start of the season when he goes for a third consecutive victory as Cincinnati continues its four-game series against the visiting Washington Nationals on Sunday.

Bailey will be looking to atone for a rocky season debut at Washington on June 24, when he was hammered for eight runs over 1 2/3 innings. He will need to figure out a way to quiet an offense that erupted for 10 runs on Saturday night, particularly since the Reds failed to score in the first 16 innings of the series before rattling the Nationals’ beleaguered bullpen for seven runs over the final two frames. Washington’s Anthony Rendon continued his hot streak with a grand slam as part of a two-homer, six-RBI night and is 15-for-31 during a nine-game hitting streak. Right fielder Bryce Harper also is on a tear, hitting safely in 10 straight games while scoring 14 runs and collecting 11 RBIs in that span.

TV: 1:10 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Tanner Roark (6-6, 5.27 ERA) vs. Reds RH Homer Bailey (2-2, 8.31)

Roark’s last turn in the rotation was skipped due to a rainout and he wound up pitching in relief in his last appearance before the break, giving up three runs in five innings versus Atlanta. He is 0-4 over his last six appearances and allowed at least five runs in four consecutive starts from June 9 to June 25. Roark has made six career starts against Cincinnati, posting a 1-2 record and 4.37 ERA.

Bailey, who underwent shoulder surgery in late February, did not fare much better in his second start of the year - surrendering three homers and six runs in a loss to Milwaukee on June 29. He bounced back with six innings of one-run ball at Colorado on July 4 and limited Arizona to one run over 6 2/3 innings in his last start before the break. Bailey has limited Harper to one hit in eight at-bats.

WALK-OFFS

1. Rendon has reached base in 12 of 14 plate appearances over the last three games.

2. Reds 2B Scooter Gennett has homered in four of the past seven games.

3. Nationals RHP Joe Ross will undergo Tommy John surgery, the team announced Saturday.

PREDICTION: Reds 6, Nationals 4

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