By HAL McCOY
When it comes to a Battle of the Bullpens between the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Nationals, well, the Nationals are going to win every time.
And that’s what happened Friday night in the nation’s capital, even though the Reds bullpen was almost perfect. Almost.
They argued, scuffled and battled for 14 innings before the Nationals finally won, 3-2, ending an enduring pitching battle.
NEITHER TEAM SCORED from the sixth inning until Washington’s Ben Revere ripped a game-ending double off the right field wall against Ross Ohlendorf in the bottom of the 14th.
The Nationals bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings and gave up no runs and three hits. The Reds bullpen nearly matched that with seven innings of one-run, three-hit pitching by Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani and Ohlendorf.
And Ohlendorf pitched two scoreless innings, but couldn’t finish off his third inning.
HE BEGAN THE 14th by hitting Danny Espinosa with a pitch. A sacrifice bunt went astray for an out and Wilson Ramos grounded to third on a hit-and-run, moving Espinosa to second with two outs.
But Revere ended it with his drive to the base of the right field wall, providing the Nationals with their sixth straight win. The Reds? They’ve lost five straight and nine of their last 10.
Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani and Nationals starter Tanner Roark engaged in a good old-fashioned pitching duel.
DeSclafani pitched 6 2/3 innings and gave up two runs, six hits, walked two and struck out eight. And he received nothing for his hard work but pats on the posterior.
WASHINGTON’S ROARK PITCHED seven innings and gave up two runs, eight hits, two walks and four strikeouts.
The Nationals scored in the first when Revere led with a single, took third on Bryce Harper’s one-out single and scored on Daniel Murphy’s sacrifice fly.
The Reds tied it, 1-1, in the second on back-to-back singles by Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez to open the inning and a one-out single by Tucker Barnhart, who was thrown out trying to reach second after his hit.
BOTH TEAMS SCORED in the sixth with the Reds taking a 2-1 lead on Joey Votto’s leadoff single, a walk to Brandon Phillips and a single by Adam Duvall. A big inning was thwarted, though, when Eugenio Suarez hit into an inning-ending double play on a fantastic stop by second baseman Daniel Murphy.
The Nationals tied it, 2-2, in the bottom of the sixth when DeSclafani walked Jayson Werth and a two-out double by Daniel Murphy.
So Murphy had two hits and drove in Washington’s first two runs. He is leading the league in hitting at .352. And Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips played a large part in Murphy ending up in Washington.
THE REDS HAD PHILLIPS traded to Washington but he invoked his 10-and-5 no-trade clause. So the Nationals signed Murphy and can thank Phillips for it.
The bullpens were fabulous on both sides.
Iglesias replaced DeSclafani with two outs in the seventh inning and the go-head run on second base. He coaxed an inning-ending ground ball from Jayson Werth.
He gave up a one-out double to Murphy in the eighth and a walk to Anthony Rendon, then retired Ryan Zimmerman on a line drive to center field and struck out Danny Espinosa.
Then he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and turned it over to Tony Cingrani for two scoreless one-hit innings.
WASHINGTON RELIEF PITCHER Sammy Solis replaced starter Roark in the eighth and threw seven straight strikes to pitch a 1-2-3 inning. Zack Cozart, in a 1 for 26 funk, flied to center on the first pitch and Solis struck out both Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips on three pitches.
Then he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth and for his two innings he threw 15 pitches, 13 for strikes.
Tucker Barnhart doubled with one out in the 10th. With two outs, Zack Cozart worked the count to 3-and-0 then inexplicably swung at the next pitch and dribbled one to the pitcher for the third out.
JOEY VOTTO, WHO ONCE again antagonized fans by refusing to toss a couple of balls into the stands when he was near the fans, doubled with two outs in the 13th, but Brandon Phillips grounded out and it was Cincinnati’s last gasp.
The Reds are 2-and-6 in extra innings games, including the 15-inning loss earlier this week to the Chicago Cubs. The Nationals, owner of first place in the National League East, are 6-and-3.