Reds-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

While the Cincinnati Reds hope their recent success at Great American Ballpark will carry over and end their struggles on the road, the Washington Nationals continue to search for a way to stop their current home slide.

The Reds can avoid a sixth straight road loss by handing the Nationals a seventh consecutive home defeat Thursday night.

Mat Latos allowed four hits over seven innings and Todd Frazier belted his team-leading sixth home run Wednesday as Cincinnati (13-9) concluded an 8-2 homestand Wednesday with a 1-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. The Reds allowed an average 2.3 runs during the stay, and hope to get the same effort from their pitching staff when they begin a 10-game trip to Washington (10-11), St. Louis and Chicago.

Cincinnati beat St. Louis 13-4 in its first road game but has yielded 34 runs while dropping the next five away from home.

"We have to (improve) our road record," manager Dusty Baker told the Reds' official website. "It's a very, very tough road trip we're about to go on."

A stop in Washington might provide a good opportunity for the Reds to avoid their first six-game road skid since Sept. 5-17, 2010. Cincinnati outscored the Nationals 27-10 while taking two of three at home April 5-7.

Washington also has scored four runs during its four-game overall skid, all against the visiting Cardinals this week. The Nationals outscored Miami and the Chicago White Sox 31-14 to win their first six home games but have been outscored 27-9 by Atlanta and St. Louis while losing the last six there.

"Somebody said (Tuesday night) it feels like we're 0-20. But it's not that bad. We're only one game under .500, and it's April. We'll be all right,'' said Jayson Werth, who homered in Wednesday's 4-2 loss to St. Louis. "What we're going through: It's the first time this team has dealt with expectations, and there's something to be said about that. But we'll adjust.''

The Nationals, who dropped seven straight at home May 15-20, 2010, could see some changes in Thursday's lineup. Manager Davey Johnson expects to start reserve infielder Steve Lombardozzi, who his batting .345 (10 for 29).

"We're just not doing the things we're capable of doing right now,'' Johnson said. "It'll change, but I'm going to have to jumble things up a little bit. Try to light a fire.''

The Nationals hope to get back on track against scheduled Reds starter Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 3.54 ERA), who has an 0-1 record in his last three starts at Washington but a 2.11 ERA. The right-hander allowed two runs in eight innings in each of his last two starts, most recently a 3-2, 13-inning win over Miami on Saturday.

Washington counters with Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 5.85), who has yielded 12 runs, 12 hits and walked seven in nine innings while going 0-1 in his last two starts. All five runs he allowed Saturday at Citi Field came in the fourth inning of a 7-6 victory over the Mets.

The left-hander has given up two earned runs, struck out 25 and walked five in 19 innings while going 1-0 in three starts versus Cincinnati.

Batting .392 this season, Cincinnati's Shin-Soo Choo is 5 for 15 (.333) with three doubles against Gonzalez. He went 5 for 12 with two homers and two RBIs against the Nationals this month.

Werth is batting .362 with six homers and 15 RBIs in his last 24 games versus Cincinnati.

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