The Washington Nationals may own the worst record in baseball, but they’re producing at the plate in a big way again.
The Nationals will try to win a third consecutive game Sunday when they conclude a four-game series against the struggling Cincinnati Reds.
Washington (42-75) entered this series after getting outscored 14-3 in losing a two-game series at Atlanta. The club didn’t do much better against the Reds (50-66) on Thursday, falling 7-0 before scraping out a 2-0 win the next night.
The Nationals hit .200 during that stretch after winning 12 of the previous 16, including a season-high eight-game winning streak, behind a .316 average with 24 homers while averaging 9.4 runs.
They appeared to regain that form Saturday, scoring six times in the third and adding three more in the fourth en route to a 10-6 victory.
“We went through three or four days where we didn’t get many runs,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “In both of those rallies (Saturday), we hit some balls down the line that stayed fair. They turned into six RBI.”
Adam Dunn(notes), who spent seven-plus seasons with Cincinnati before being dealt to Arizona last August and then signing with the Nationals as a free agent in the offseason, will try to build on his first homer against his former team. The right fielder connected for a solo shot Saturday for his 125th homer at Great American Ball Park - the most by any player.
Dunn is hitting .342 with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last 12 games. His .281 batting average is on pace to be a career high, and he ranks among the NL leaders with 31 homers and 86 RBIs.
The Nationals will turn to John Lannan(notes) (8-9, 3.58 ERA), who was pulled with two outs in the fifth Tuesday after giving up six runs and walking four in an 8-1 loss at Atlanta. That was the left-hander’s quickest exit from a game since surrendering six runs in three innings of a 12-6 loss at Florida in the season opener April 6.
He’s lost his last three road starts, posting an 8.10 ERA.
Lannan is 1-0 with a 3.06 ERA in three starts against the Reds. He didn’t get a decision in the last start June 11, yielding two runs in six innings of Washington’s 3-2 win.
Lehr, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Louisville on July 31, allowed one run and scattered 11 hits in six innings of Tuesday’s 5-4 win at St. Louis. That performance came six days after he threw a four-hitter to beat Chicago 4-0 for his first complete game.
“It’s tough to take the kid out when he keeps pitching like that,” manager Dusty Baker said of Lehr, who is getting his first start against Washington. “He’s battled to get to this point. He beat a very good Cub lineup and he also beat a very potent Cardinals lineup.”