During an offensive brown out in which the Washington Nationals haven't been able to put big innings together, the last thing the team needed was to surrender big RBI hits to the opposing teams starting pitcher.
Johnny Cueto shut down the Nationals attack and added a two-run single to propel the Cincinnati Reds to a 7-2 victory. Cueto's pitching numbers of six innings, four hits, two earned runs, four punch-outs and four walks. His single in the third inning off Nationals starter JD Martin marks his first RBI of the season.
For Martin, the second inning was where everything seemed to come apart. Martin surrendered a lead-off single to Jonny Gomes, then quickly walked the bases loaded. From there, Drew Stubbs pounded a two-run double to right to open up the scoring. After another walk to reload the bases and the opposing pitcher at the dish, Cueto singled to right center which chased home two more.
On the night, Martin concluded with a line of 5.1 innings pitched, six earned runs on six hits, two strikeouts and three walks. Martin also surrendered homers to Jonny Gomes and Miguel Cairo as part as his six hits allowed.
The bright side if any for the Nationals was they were able to plate some runs tonight, thanks to a Nyjer Morgan sacrifice fly and a Cristian Guzman run scoring single in the top of the third. However, the Nationals were only able to combine for four hits in total, while going two for seven with runners in scoring position.
The Nationals are in full-on brown out mode right now. Over the last three games, as a team, the Nats have scored in 2-of-25 innings. That's how you manage across two runs in three games, for sure.
Martin couldn't find the strike zone in the second inning. The Nats were able to climb back in after the trouble in the second, but Martin couldn't stop the bleeding, which took all the wind out of the Nats sails. It's always hard to pull a starting pitcher early in a game after one bad inning, but Martin simply wasn't effective tonight.
Tomorrow, the Nationals offense tries to snap out of it against the Reds impressive rookie starter Mike Leake (6-1, 3.53). The Nats will respond with Luis Atilano (6-6, 4.85).