The Reds won for the sixth time in seven games Tuesday, beating the Nationals 6-5. Cincinnati (14-7) is seven games over .500 for the first time since July 4, 2004.
Edwin Encarnacion drove in four runs and has 16 RBIs in his last eight games for the Reds, who lead the majors with 131 runs, an average of 6.2 per game. They have outscored opponents 21-7 during a three-game winning streak.
The Reds entered the night with a 5.37 ERA that ranked 22nd in the majors.
“Our mind set for each game is to score as many runs as possible in any way we can. It just so happens we’re getting them early,” said Adam Dunn, who scored twice. “It takes a lot of pressure off our pitchers.”
One night after scoring three runs in the first inning, the Reds got four in the opening frame off Washington starter Billy Traber and held on to clinch their third straight series victory and fifth this season.
“Our offense has been doing that all year, giving us some room and letting us be aggressive,” Cincinnati starter Dave Williams said.
Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo (3-0, 3.04 ERA) will take the mound in the series finale, looking to remain undefeated in his fifth start of the season. Arroyo, acquired in a March trade with Boston, has allowed just four earned runs in his three victories and is looking to start 4-0 for the second straight season.
He gave up one run and six hits in eight innings of Friday’s 3-1 win over Ben Sheets and the Milwaukee Brewers, settling down nicely and striking out eight after giving up a homer to the first batter he faced.
“The goal is 15 wins, 200 innings, regardless of when you get them,” said Arroyo, who has never faced the Nationals franchise. “I don’t necessarily want to be anybody’s ace unless it comes to playoff time.”
Washington will counter with Ramon Ortiz (0-2, 7.31 ERA). John Patterson, who is nursing a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm, was originally scheduled to pitch, but was pushed back to Thursday before team doctor Bruce Thomas said Tuesday night he will take three to five days off and not throw at all.
Ortiz’s last turn in the rotation was skipped on Saturday because of rain. The Dominican right-hander wasn’t pleased with missing his turn, but manager Frank Robinson said the decision had nothing to do with his early season struggles.
“I’m not happy about that. I know it’s manager Frank’s decision, but I’m not happy,” Ortiz said. “I don’t like that, because I’m not a rookie.”
Ortiz, who went 9-11 with a 5.36 ERA last season for Cincinnati before signing a one-year, $2.5 million deal with Washington, gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings without receiving a decision in the Reds’ 7-5 win over Florida on April 16.
He made his only career start against Cincinnati on June 8, 2002 while with the Angels, allowing two runs and four hits in seven innings without receiving a decision in his team’s 4-3 loss.