WASHINGTON (AP) — Nick Senzel made a leaping catch against the right-field wall to save a run in the ninth inning, then hit a two-run homer leading in the 10th to lift the Cincinnati Reds over the Nationals 5-4 Thursday for their first series sweep in Washington since 2006.
Cincinnati (49-39) extended its winning streak to five with the four-game sweep that maintained a two-game lead over the second-place Brewers in NL Central heading into a weekend streak at Milwaukee. The Reds have won 20 of their last 24 games overall and 19 of their last 22 on the road, moving 10 games above .500 for the first time since Aug. 29, 2021. They also host the Brewers in a three-way series games the weekend after the All-Star break.
“It was important for us to focus game by game here, especially this last one,” Senzel said. “It just brought crazy delays and a slow, hot, humid beat, kind of like DC. We continued to fight until the end. We knew how important it was for us to mind our business, and now it’s time to go to Milwaukee and the All-Star break on a high.
Senzel said he felt he needed to make up for dropping Riley Adams’ single starting a two-run fifth. He started with a bounding hold on CJ Abrams with the sun in his eyes for the second of the ninth after Adams’ brace against Tony Santillan (1-0), who worked a scoreless run in his first appearance with the Reds since June. 13, 2022.
“It’s one of the best plays I’ve ever seen, that that ball can stay in his glove like that,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “He has good hands wherever he is on the court. With the game on the line, it’s the game right there.
With Tyler Stephenson second as an autorunner, Senzel gave Cincinnati a 5-3 lead when he homered on a Hunter Harvey first-pitch fastball (3-4).
“He made a great catch and he comes in and hits a big home run for them,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said.
Alexis Díaz got his 25th save in 26 chances, allowing an RBI single to Lane Thomas before pulling out Keibert Ruiz on a game-ending flyout with runners at second and third.
Playing exactly a month after his major league debut, Elly De La Cruz had two hits and finished the series 10 for 18. The third baseman entered foul territory and threw for 95.6 mph at first on Adams’ floor for the final out of the sixth, the fastest throw for an assist in the major leagues this season and the fastest for the Reds since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
Cincinnati is 22-6 since raising the 21-year-old, who is hitting .325 with four home runs, 15 RBIs, 12 stolen bases and a .905 OPS.
Last-place Washington (34-53) fell to a worst NL 13-31 at home and has lost 14 of 15 at Nationals Park since June 3.
Washington starter MacKenzie Gore pitched 1 1/3 innings scoreless and was retired after a rain delay of an hour and 43 minutes, Cincinnati’s Brandon Williamson stayed after the delay and pitched three innings of shutout with four strikeouts.
Bell credited pitching coach Derek Johnson for the decision.
“He was convinced he could do it,” Bell said. “He stayed ready and kept his legs loose and his arm pretty loose. If he doesn’t do it for us and for our team, we won’t pass the game. We have no chance of winning this match.
Kevin Newman hit an RBI single in the third, but Thomas’ two-run single gave the Nationals the lead in the fifth. De La Cruz hit an equalizing RBI double in the sixth, and Alex Call hit a solo homer off Daniel Duarte in the seventh to give Washington a 3-2 lead. Pinch hitter Joey Votto tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth.
Reds: Santillan (lower back stress fracture) was activated from the 60-day injured list, RHP Brett Kennedy was selected for Triple-A Louisville and RHP Ricky Karcher was designated for assignment.
Nationals: 3B Jeimer Candelario left after being hit near the right knee in the 10th by a slider from Díaz.
Reds: LHP rookie Andrew Abbott (4-0, 1.21 ERA) starts in Milwaukee after striking out 12 in 7 2/3 innings Sunday against San Diego in his sixth major league start. RHP Corbin Burnes (6-5, 4.00), the 2021 NL Cy Young Award winner, starts for the Brewers.
Nationals: RHP Trevor Williams (5-4, 4.34) starts as Texas visits Washington for the first time since 2017. LHP Cody Bradford (0-1, 4.98) will be on the mound for the Rangers.
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