Bronson Arroyo looks to become the National League’s second six-game winner when the Cincinnati Reds host the Washington Nationals in the series finale between the teams Thursday at Great American Ball Park.
Arroyo (5-1, 2.36 ERA), the first Reds pitcher to begin the season 5-0 since Paul Wilson went 7-0 in 2004, lost his first game Saturday when he allowed three runs and 11 hits in six innings of a 3-1 defeat against Arizona.
Arroyo, who is 9-3 with a 3.87 in April in his career but just 5-6 with a 4.17 ERA in May, would join Arizona’s Brandon Webb as the NL’s only six-game winners with a victory Thursday.
Webb improved to 6-0 on Wednesday when he beat Pittsburgh 7-4.
The Reds (22-12) have been inconsistent of late, going 3-4 in their last seven games, but are coming off a 9-6 win over the Nationals on Wednesday that evened this series at one game apiece.
Scott Hatteberg hit a bases-loaded two-run double to break a 6-6 tie in the eighth inning, Austin Kearns went 4-for-4 with two RBIs and Felipe Lopez stole four bases as the Reds had 13 hits and nine walks.
“It’s always good when you’re feeling good at the plate,” said Kearns, whose .339 average leads the club. “We’ve been scuffling as a team. We’ve got to find a way to get some wins. Tonight, we picked up the pitching.”
Arroyo faced the Nationals for the first time earlier this season and pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out eight in the Reds’ 5-0 win on April 26 at RFK Stadium.
The Nationals (12-22) are 1-1 on their nine-game road trip that includes three games against both Atlanta and the Chicago Cubs before they return home to kick off a three-game interleague series with Baltimore on May 19.
Zach Day (2-3, 7.11), who grew up a Reds fan and attended the University of Cincinnati, will make his third start of the season for Washington on Thursday.
Day was claimed off waivers from Colorado on April 26 and began his second tenure with the Nationals two days later. He is coming off his best outing of the season when he allowed four hits in seven scoreless innings and struck out five in a 6-0 win over Pittsburgh on Friday.
In his three previous starts—all losses—Day gave up 17 runs and 24 hits in just 11 1-3 innings while batters hit .444 against him.
“He looks more at ease on the mound—not as much tension when he’s out there,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. “He seems to be throwing the ball with a lot less effort.”
Day is 1-1 with a 4.62 ERA in seven games, including three starts, against the Reds in his career. He last started against Cincinnati on June 4, 2004, allowing two runs in six innings of a 4-2 win when the Nationals were based in Montreal.
Cincinnati is 13-4 against the Washington franchise since the beginning of the 2004 season, including a 6-2 record at home.