Reds-Nationals Preview

The Associated Press

It's been feast or famine at home for the Washington Nationals throughout April, and they have the chance to post their third sweep at Nationals Park on Sunday as they close out a four-game series versus the Cincinnati Reds.

Each of Washington's previous four series at home have resulted in sweeps. The Nationals (13-11) took three games from both Miami and the Chicago White Sox in their first six home games before dropping three-game sets to Atlanta and St. Louis.

Washington has reversed its fortunes at the Reds' expense in the first three games, outscoring them 15-4 in those wins following Saturday's 6-3 victory. Dan Haren pitched six solid innings and Bryce Harper went 2 for 3 with a two-run homer.

Harper has been a fairly accurate bell weather of Washington's success at home. In the nine wins, he is batting .531 (17 for 32) with five homers, but just .158 (3 for 19) in the six losses. He is 5 for 9 with two homers, a triple and a double in this series and his 18 RBIs this month has set a team record.

''And if you know him, he probably (thinks) he's having an off-year right now,'' manager Davey Johnson said of Harper. ''He expects lot of himself and that's a good trait.''

Tony Cingrani (1-0, 2.25) looks to slow down Harper and continue his impressive start since being called up from Triple-A earlier this month. The 23-year-old rookie has struck out 17 in 12 innings in his first two starts, including nine Tuesday over seven innings before Cincinnati eventually lost 4-2 in 10 innings.

"I was a lot more comfortable," Cingrani told the team's official website after not walking a batter in his last outing. "The tempo was a little bit slower to me, so it was good. I was trying to make first pitches and make sure I was getting ahead of people. I was just trying to give them a good quality start."

The left-hander has never faced the Nationals.

Cincinnati (13-12) has dropped eight straight on the road and is trying to avoid its worst skid there since losing nine in a row from June 7-19, 2004. The Reds have been shut out twice during these struggles and held to one run on three other occasions in that span, batting .187 and scoring 18 runs.

Nationals scheduled starter Ross Detwiler (1-1, 1.38) will try to extend those struggles while hoping for better offensive support. He has given up two or fewer runs in each of his four starts but was on the short end of a 2-0 defeat to St. Louis on Tuesday after giving up two runs in six innings.

The left-hander saw his bullpen blow a 5-1 lead versus Cincinnati on April 6 after he limited the Reds to an unearned run and six hits over six innings of 7-6, 11-inning victory. Detwiler is 0-3 in five lifetime starts versus the Reds despite a 2.48 ERA.

Joey Votto, who has scored two of Cincinnati's runs in this series and homered in Thursday's loss, is 1 for 8 with a solo homer lifetime against Detwiler.

Washington's last four-game sweep at home came against the Chicago Cubs from Sept. 3-6, and the Reds have not been swept in a four-game road series since Philadelphia accomplished the feat July 8-11, 2010.

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