Nationals 5, Reds 3

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WASHINGTON (AP)—John Patterson gave the Washington Nationals exactly what they so desperately needed: a long, strong outing.

Pumping his fist repeatedly after working out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the seventh, the right-hander scattered 10 hits over 8 1-3 innings to lead Washington to a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday night.

“He put it all together tonight,” manager Frank Robinson said, “and we needed it.”

The Nationals had lost five of seven games to drop into a tie for last place in the NL East, and a string of injuries has thrown their pitching staff into disarray.

With his 2.43 ERA and quality start after quality start, Patterson could own a much gaudier record than 8-4. But he hasn’t received much run support and has 12 no-decisions. That was on his mind Wednesday as he tried to protect a 2-1 lead late.

“I almost cracked tonight. I did. Almost cracked,” Patterson said. “The stress was starting to get to me. The stress of it all year. I had to find another gear to try to get out of it.”

Two singles and a hit batter filled the bases to start the seventh.

“After that,” Patterson said, “I just tried to get tough.”

Did he ever.

He got Edwin Encarnacion to ground to first baseman Nick Johnson, who threw home for a forceout. Then Patterson struck out pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz, and got Felipe Lopez—3-for-3 to that point—to tap a comebacker that Patterson easily tossed to first.

“We just got a little anxious, I guess,” Lopez said.

When the out closed the inning, the normally unflappable Patterson punched the air a half-dozen times, then jogged and even skipped on his way to the dugout.

“That was the game right there,” third baseman Vinny Castilla said.

Perhaps, but it was Castilla’s two-run double to right in the bottom of the seventh that helped pad the lead to 5-1. Reliever Jason Standridge gave up three runs and three hits and walked two in his one inning.

Reds starter Ramon Ortiz (8-9) gave up an RBI groundout to Preston Wilson in the first, and Jose Guillen’s homer leading off the fifth. It was his 23rd homer of the season and only his third at RFK Stadium—but second in two nights.

“Only mistake of the game, that pitch right there,” said Ortiz, who gave up six hits and two walks over six innings.

Not bad, but not enough against Patterson, who is 6-0 at home this season. He finished with eight strikeouts and one walk.

Patterson wasn’t always dominant, giving up three runs, and allowing leadoff singles in every inning from the fourth through the seventh. He gave up Rich Aurilia’s RBI double in the fourth, and Javier Valentin’s two-run homer in the ninth, but the right-hander excelled when he needed to.

After Valentin’s 11th homer, Chad Cordero came on and struck out the final two batters for his major league-leading 40th save.

All in all, it was a big boost for the Nationals, who put starter Ryan Drese on the disabled list Tuesday night and are waiting to see if Tony Armas Jr.’s sore shoulder will prevent him from taking the mound this weekend. Washington might have to dip into the minor leagues for starters Saturday and Sunday. Plus, reliever Luis Ayala (elbow tendinitis) won’t be available until Friday at the earliest.

Before the game, Robinson talked about the importance of getting top-notch starting pitching from Patterson on Wednesday and Livan Hernandez on Thursday.

“If they can get through their normal-type games, going deep into the game, we’ll be able to handle the weekend with the people we have right here,” Robinson said.

Patterson certainly delivered.

After allowing a game-opening single to Lopez—who then was caught stealing for the first of two times on the night—Patterson retired eight straight batters, five with strikeouts. The last two outs of the third: Encarnacion looking at a 71 mph changeup, and Ortiz looking at a 68 mph offering.

“He’s established himself to the point that you expect something good when he goes out there,” Robinson said.


Patterson doubled in the fourth, his third hit of the season. … Guillen made a fielding error for the second straight night. The right fielder had five errors in 115 games before Tuesday.

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