Reds try to complete rare series win over Nationals

MLB

The Cincinnati Reds can win their first series in more than a month when they host the Washington Nationals in the finale of a four-game set on Sunday.

The Reds (80-75) have not won a series since sweeping four games from the Miami Marlins on Aug. 19-22. They have taken two straight from the Nationals (64-91) — both in walk-off fashion — after dropping a 3-2 decision in the opener.

Cincinnati, which improved to 4-4 on a 10-game homestand, trails the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals, who have won 15 straight, by six games for the second National League wild card with seven games remaining.

“That’s all we can do,” said Nick Castellanos, who hit a walk-off solo homer to win it. “The stretch that the Cardinals are on is truly impressive. It gets repetitive, but it is all we can control.”

The Reds will send right-hander Tyler Mahle (12-6, 3.66 ERA) to the mound Sunday against left-hander Josh Rogers (2-0, 2.16) in the finale.

Mahle makes his 32nd start of the season. After tossing six shutout innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sept. 16, Mahle struggled against them five days later, giving up three runs in 4 1/3 innings and taking the loss. He allowed six hits and three walks in his shortest start since June 21.

Mahle threw 5 1/3 shutout innings in a win against the Nationals on May 25. In his career, he is 2-1 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts versus Washington.

Rogers, who signed a minor league contract with the Nationals in June, has been a strong addition since being called up from Triple-A Rochester on Sept. 4. He has gone at least five innings and allowed three runs or fewer in each of his four starts.

Last time out, Rogers beat the Marlins with a career-long 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He allowed five hits and two walks while striking out four. He threw 103 pitches.

“It was awesome,” Rogers said. “I felt really good tonight. … I just tried to work fast, attack the zone and let the defense play — and that they did tonight again, so shoutout to them.”

Rogers, who pitched briefly for the Baltimore Orioles in 2018 and 2019, has yet to face the Reds in his career.

Castellanos went 2-for-3 with three RBIs as the Reds rallied twice to tie the game before winning it in the ninth. He is hitting .310 with 31 homers and 91 RBIs.

“Nick is a big-time player,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We’ve seen it all year. What a fantastic season he’s had. He’s finishing strong.”

The Reds placed left-hander Wade Miley (neck strain) on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Wednesday.

The Nationals, who led 5-3 after four innings, got homers from Lane Thomas and Keibert Ruiz, his second in two nights. First baseman Josh Bell went 2-for-5 and is hitting .286 with four homers and 15 RBIs in September.

“Seeing the ball a little earlier than he was,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s worked on it diligently — not jumping, staying behind the baseball. He’s seeing the ball a lot better and he’s swinging at more strikes.”

Martinez said an MRI on third baseman Carter Kieboom, who was scratched from Friday’s lineup with a left forearm injury, came back negative. Kieboom could be in the lineup Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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