Votto walks on ball 3; Reds sweep Nationals, 8-2
CINCINNATI (AP) Ball three. Take your base.
With the help of a premature walk to Joey Votto that went unnoticed on the field, the Cincinnati Reds rallied for six runs in the seventh inning and beat the Washington Nationals 8-2 on Sunday.
Todd Frazier and Brandon Phillips each homered and drove in two runs as the Reds completed a three-game sweep of the NL East leaders. But it was a three-ball walk to Votto during the big rally that began to generate buzz after the game.
Apparently, none of the umpires and nobody on the field realized the count was 3-2 when Votto trotted to first base with one out. Cincinnati went on to score five more times in the inning.
A statistician on the press level at the ballpark noticed the gaffe and mentioned it to a Reds spokesman. Others watching the game pointed it out on social media. But on the field, play continued without interruption.
Neither manager was asked about the mistake afterward, but video showed Matt Grace threw only three balls to Votto before he went to first.
It was the latest indication that Cincinnati's fortunes have started to turn. The Reds have won four of five after a nine-game losing streak. They swept Washington for the first time since Aug 2011.
''Hitting is contagious,'' Frazier said. ''It is the same with hitting with runners in scoring position. It is a mindset. Let the pitches come to you and attack.''
Phillips snapped a 2-all tie with an RBI single off Aaron Barrett (3-1) in the seventh. Frazier followed Votto's walk with a run-scoring double, and Jay Bruce hit a two-run double.
Cincinnati sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning against three Washington relievers. Marlon Byrd stated the rally with an infield hit. Billy Hamilton popped up a bunt that Barrett dropped, but he recovered in time to force Byrd. Hamilton then got his 23rd stolen base, setting the stage for Phillips.
''Byrd hits a ball off the end of the bat,'' Nationals manager Matt Williams said. ''Then we get the bunt popped up and we don't catch it. That's the worst-case scenario, because now you've got Hamilton on base. There's pressure. He steals a base, there's a ball in the hole. The bullpen's been pushed a lot on this trip. It would help if your starters go deep into games. That didn't happen much on this road trip. It's a little blip.''
The Reds have won three straight for the first time since May 12-14. The Nationals have lost three in a row for the first time since a six-game skid from April 22-27.
Frazier gave the Reds a 1-0 lead with his 16th homer and third in the past four games, a 366-foot shot down the left-field line on a 3-1 pitch from Tanner Roark leading off the fourth.
Phillips snapped an 0-for-18 slump with a solo homer to left with two outs in the fifth, his third of the season.
Michael Lorenzen followed fellow rookies Anthony DeSclafani and Raisel Iglesias to start against the Nationals.
''The three of us don't try to one-up each other. We feed off each other and support each other,'' Lorenzen said.
Lorenzen walked the bases loaded with one out in the seventh, setting up Michael Taylor's two-run single off reliever J.J. Hoover (4-0) that tied it at 2.
The walks cost Lorenzen a potential win.
''We talk about learning experiences,'' Reds manager Bryan Price said. ''Lorenzen is learning to manage a 2-0 lead, when you know a home run won't beat you, and challenging the hitters instead of making perfect pitches. He was just missing the plate. To their credit they laid off some tough pitches.''
Lorenzen gave up just one hit and two runs, but walked six with four strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings.
Roark allowed four hits and two runs over six innings.
Nationals: RF Bryce Harper returned to the lineup after being scratched Saturday with a sore back, the result of being hit by a pitch Friday.
Reds: RHP Johnny Cueto is Tuesday's scheduled starter at Philadelphia. Cueto has missed two starts since losing at Kansas City on May 19 while dealing with what Price has described as elbow inflammation.
Both benches were warned after Roark hit Votto with a pitch in the first, the fourth hit batsman of the series. Reds reliever Tony Cingrani hit Harper in the back with his first pitch Friday. Harper stared at Cingrani and walked slowly to first base, drawing a rebuke from Votto.
Washington had a chance to take the lead in the second on Roark's two-out double with Taylor on first, but Taylor was tagged out sliding at the plate by catcher Tucker Barnhart on Phillips' relay of Hamilton's throw from right-center.
Nationals: Washington returns to interleague play Monday, opening a seven-day, seven-game homestand with the first of three games against Toronto. The Nationals swept the Blue Jays in the previous series between the teams in 2012.
Reds: After getting Monday off, Cincinnati heads to Philadelphia for the first of two three-game road trips this season.