After emphatically putting an end to their lengthy losing streak, the Washington Nationals look to win consecutive road games in a single series for the first time this season as they continue their four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday.
Felipe Lopez hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to break a 4-all tie, and lift the Nationals (17-29) to an 8-4 win over the Reds (18-28) on Tuesday that snapped a nine-game road skid.
Lopez, who was an All-Star shortstop with Cincinnati before being traded to Washington last season, also had an RBI double and a run-scoring groundout, matching his career high with six RBIs. He was batting just .180 (11-for-61) with two homers and seven RBIs in his last 14 games.
“It’s very important for him,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said. “He’s been struggling lately. He has been putting some good at-bats together, and tonight he had several.”
The Nationals scored a season high in runs, and the victory was their first on the road since April 30. They’re still a major league-worst 6-16 on the road, and have yet to win consecutive games on a road trip.
Washington has won just two of its last 10 games at Great American Ball Park, and failed to win back-to-back games in a single series at Cincinnati since April 5 and 6, 2002.
Jason Simontacchi (1-2, 5.19 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season as he takes the ball for the Nationals. The right-hander gave up three runs and eight hits, but struck out a season-high six in six innings of a 5-4 loss to Baltimore on Friday.
Simontacchi, who missed the last two seasons recovering from shoulder surgery, is making his first start against the Reds since May 13, 2003, when he allowed seven runs in 1 2-3 innings for St. Louis. He is 2-4 with a 4.93 ERA in 11 games—six starts—lifetime against Cincinnati.
The Reds had just five hits on Tuesday—three through eight innings—after pounding out 12 in Monday’s 8-5 series-opening comeback victory.
Cincinnati is a major league-worst 6-15 this month, and are again 10 games below .500 with Tuesday’s loss.
Ken Griffey Jr. tied Harmon Killebrew for eighth place on the all-time home run list with his second in two games and 573rd of his career. It was Griffey’s eighth homer in 19 games since manager Jerry Narron moved the right fielder back to his customary third spot in the batting order on May 3.
“He’s swinging the bat as well as anybody in baseball,” Narron said. “I’m not surprised. I’m sure he’ll continue it.”
Kyle Lohse (1-5, 4.75) looks to avoid becoming the first Reds starter in 13 years to lose in six straight appearances when he takes the hill on Wednesday.
Lohse, who is winless since April 15, has posted an 8.03 ERA during his five-game losing streak. John Smiley was the last Cincinnati starter to lose six in a row, doing so from May 13-June 8, 1994.
Lohse is coming off the shortest start of his career, lasting just 1 1-3 innings as he was tagged for seven runs and seven hits of a 9-4 loss to Cleveland on Friday. The right-hander has yielded at least five runs in three of his starts during his losing skid.
In his only one career appearance against the Washington franchise, Lohse allowed four runs in six innings of a 5-4, 11-inning loss June 16, 2004 for Minnesota against Montreal.