The Reds spoiled Dusty Baker's return to Cincinnati by jumping all over Gio Gonzalez in a 7-2 win over Baker's first place Washington Nationals.
It is the Reds' third straight win. Three home runs curtailed Washington's comeback attempts.
The Reds picked up four runs in the second inning. Adam Duvall doubled to open the frame. The first of Eugenio Suarez' three hits, a ground single up the middle brought Duvall home. Billy Hamilton dumped a single to center. Ramon Cabrera, who was giving Tucker Barnhart a much needed rest, singled to load the bases. Reds' starter Brandon Finnegan struck out but Zack Cozart delivered a run-scoring single. After Votto struck out swinging, Brandon Phillips singled in two runs.
"It's big when you get a lead early," Finnegan said. "The last few starts we have been going deeper in the games to give the bullpen a break. They were getting beat up early because of us not going deep into games."
Finniegan allowed a single Washington prospect, Trea Turnier, who is replacing Ryan Zimmerman during the latter's paternity leave. Reigning MVP Bryce Harper banged into a 4-6-3 double play. to end the first inning. Finnegan issued a two-out walk to Anthony Rendon but picked him off to end the second. The Nationals sent the minimum nine batters to the plate in three innings.
Suarez lined his 13th home run off the top of the wall in left. Thirdbase umpire Jeff Nelson signalled that the ball stayed in the park but a review the ball bounced out first.
"It's good to get the kid, Suarez coming off a swoon," Bryan Price said. "It's not just the home runs but he's hitting the ball from right to left."
The Reds took batting practice inside because the team landed at 4:30 am. They were not required to report until later after flying all night from Colorado.
"What I think is great is we have a group that won't make excuses for the schedule," Price said. "I admire these guys for going through the struggles. Now they are reaping rewards for hard work."
Turner walked in the fourth and appeared to reach third on Harper's one out single but the Reds' claimed Suarez held the tag as Turner's foot popped off the base. The call was overturned on Nelson again.
Jayson Werth put the Nationals on the scoreboard with his ninth home run in the seventh inning off Finnegan. Rendon followed with a single. Bryan Price brought Blake Wood in to replace Finnegan, who pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and three walks. He struck out two.
Cozart greeted Gonzalez' replacement with his eighth home run, leading off the seventh.
The Nationals and Reds traded runs in the eighth. Wilson Ramos doubled off Wood and went to third on a wild pitch. Ben Revere's ground out plated Ramos but Adam Duvall's team-leading 15th home run restored the five-run cushion.
The Reds three straight games came after an ugly 17-4 loss on Tuesday to the Rockies.
"This is what we've been trying to do all year. Regardless of the win, loss, we work hard," Cozart said. "(John) Lamb coming out and shutting the Rockies down the next day was huge."
"It was definitely weird facing Dusty with Spi (Chris Speier) and (Paul) Lessard on that side," Cozart said. "Then having (Chris) Heisey there at the end of the game."
J.C Ramirez struck out all three batters in the ninth, Aroldis Chapman style. Former Red Chris Heisey was the last of the three victims.