Hernandez hasn’t enjoyed this kind of success since being named MVP of both the NL championship series and World Series in 1997 for Florida.
The 30-year-old right-hander did not let a sore right knee keep him from making his last start as he carried the Nationals to a 3-2 win over Milwaukee on Thursday.
He had left his outing on May 14 with inflammation in the knee and had fluid drained two days later. While he said he was in no pain, Hernandez did have to make adjustments but still allowed just one run and seven hits over six innings in the win over the Brewers.
“I was throwing the ball with different mechanics,” said Hernandez, who said he stayed higher during his delivery to keep from putting too much pressure on his knee. “I didn’t want to push too hard. I’ll do it because I want to pitch, but it’s not easy.”
Hernandez can tie for the NL lead in victories with Florida’s Dontrelle Willis, who got the win in the Marlins’ 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on Monday.
The Reds designated their career saves leader for assignment before the game, abruptly ending his eight-year stay in Cincinnati. He was 10-for-12 in save chances this season, but had been hit hard of late, allowing nine runs in his last three appearances to raise his ERA to 7.36.
Reds manager Dave Miley doesn’t plan to have a primary closer. David Weathers pitched the ninth on Monday for his 15th career save as the Reds won for just the sixth time in 24 games.
“The whole game was hard down there,” Weathers said. ”(Graves) will be tremendously missed. It was tough to sit out there, but once you get on the field, you’ve got to put it all out of your mind.”