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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Zack Cozart's Three Hits Back Anthony DeSclafani Bryce Harper Has One Hit

Zack Cozart had three hits including a run scoring single that capped a three-run sixth inning rally, backing a second straight solid pitching performance by Anthony DeSclafani in a 5-2 Reds' win.

The Reds start three rookie pitchers this weekend with DeSclafani drawing Stephen Strasburg as a mound opponent. Strasburg came in with a record of 3-5 with a 6.50 ERA. Strasberg allowed 15 runs in his last 12 innings over three starts.

Joey Votto hit his eighth home run of the season off Strasburg in the first inning. Todd Frazier followed with a single but Nationals' firstbaseman Ryan Zimmerman turned in an unassisted double play. Jay Bruce hit a hard one-hopper right at the base.  Zimmerman stepped on first then ran down Frazier for the double play.

Strasburg walked Brayan Pena to open the second. The Nationals trainer and manager Matt Williams hurried to the mound, taking Strasburg with them. Rookie Taylor Jordan, who was recalled from Syracuse on Sunday came in.

DeSclafani gave up one-out singles to Ian Desmond, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games, and Yunel Escobar.  Runners danced off first and third with the hottest hitter in baseball, Bryce Harper, due up.  DeSclafani struck out Harper on a called third strike.  Zimmerman flied out to right.

"DeSclafani is tough as nails," Price said. "I really think he grinded his way through."
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The Reds rookie right-hander retired eight batters in a row before Escobar singled leading off the fourth but DeSclafani got a double play ground ball out of Harper.

DeSclafani treated the much hyped Harper like any other hitter.

"I concentrate no matter who is up there," DeSclafani. "It was really good for the team."

Washington tied it in the fifth.

Wilson Ramos doubled to start the inning. One out later, Michael Taylor walked. Jordan placed a perfect bunt. Frazier's throw was late. Denard Span hit one-hopper to Votto at first. Votto got the force of Ramos at home. Desmond hit a dribbler to Frazier and beat the throw as Taylor scored.

Washington took the lead in the top of the sixth. Zimmerman doubled. Ramos singled to center.Billy Hamilton's throw home beat Zimmerman but his slide eluded Pena's tag.

The Reds solved Jordan in the bottom of the inning. Marlon Byrd walked with one out. Skip Schumaker, spelling Brandon Phillips, doubled Byrd to third. Phillips, who is suffering from a painful turf toe injury, pinch hit for DeSclafani.  Phillips lifted the ball to left and Byrd scored as Ramos couldn't handle Taylor's throw cleaning in a collision with Byrd.  Hamilton greeted Aaron Barret with a bloop single that scored Schumaker with the go-ahead run. Cozart's third hit scored Hamilton, whose 19th stolen base put him in scoring

"It was great to see a couple of two-out hits," Price said. "Fun comes from winning. We get tired of talking about silver linings when we lose. We had great situational hitting that inning. It started with Brandon's sacrifice fly, the two out hits from Billy and Zack."

Jumbo Diaz relieved DeSclafani.

Span singled to open the seventh. Diaz struck out Desmond and Escobar.  Span advanced when Escobar swung through a pitch in the dirt.  Bryan Price brought in left-hander Tony Cingrani to fasc Harper, who bats left-handed.  Cingrani's first pitch put a bruise between the 3 and 4 on Harper's back.

It didn't sit well with Harper, who stared and yelled at Cingrani as if to debate with himself if he should charge the mound. Home plate umpire Jerry Meals got between Harper and Cingrani. As Harper walked to first, he exchanged words with Votto.  Firstbase umpire Andy Fletcher got between them as the crowd chanted "Joey Votto".  Things calmed down quickly. Cingrani got out of the inning when Votto speared a low line drive from Zimmerman.

"No one likes to get hit. I get it," Price said. "We're not going to bring a left-hander in to put him on base with the tying run at the time to have a left-hander pitch to Zimmerman. Guys get pissed when they get hit. That's the first reaction."

Harper had calmed down afterward.

"It just got away from him. It hit me. There is nothing I can do," Harper said. "We (Votto and I) had some playful conversation."

Cingrani's take.

"He should have jogged. Be a baseball player. I'm sorry I hit you; now run."

Frazier hit his 15th home run off Blake Treinen to start the seventh.

Cingrani struggled in the eighth.

With one out he walked Espinosa. He struck out Taylor but walked pinch hitter Dan Uggla and Span.  Price brought in J.J. Hoover, who fell behind but fanned Desmond to end the inning.

"I definitely wanted to be out there," said Hoover, who shook off Pena to throw a third straight fastball. "I've been working to get into one of those leverage situations. Until he proved he was on my fastball I was going to buzz him with my best pitch."

Chapman came in to earn his eighth save, facing Escobar, Harper and Zimmerman the meat of the Washington batting order. Escobar struck out. Harper got his first hit of the ninth a ground ball single up the middle on a 1-2 pitch. Zimmerman struck out.  Ramos grounded to short.

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