Desperate Reds look to ride momentum vs. Nationals

MLB

The Cincinnati Reds are searching for wins in any way they can find them.

Meanwhile, the Washington Nationals are trying to give Juan Soto some help as he continues to carry the team late in the season.

The two teams will meet Saturday night in the third contest of their four-game set in Cincinnati.

The Reds (79-75) rallied from a four-run deficit and squandered a three-run lead with two outs in the ninth inning before getting a game-winning hit from Aristides Aquino in the 11th of an 8-7 victory on Friday. The win was Cincinnati’s third in seven outings on its 10-game homestand.

The Reds are just 8-16 their last 24 contests, dropping them six games behind the blazing St. Louis Cardinals in the race for the second wild card in the National League with eight games to play.

The Reds built their lead to 7-4 thanks to homers by Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez in the sixth inning as well as Castellanos’ RBI single in the seventh.

“I think it’s a great game to watch,” Reds manager David Bell said of the 4-hour, 24-minute contest. “There’s a lot going on. Our guys hung in there, did what it took to win a game. A lot of great things to watch. To me, it was outstanding. It all adds up. It’s not a perfect game. It’s a great game to win.”

Before going 2-for-2 with the game-winning hit Friday, Aquino had been hitless in his last 14 at-bats — including 0-for-4 with four strikeouts on the current homestand.

“That’s why we’ve got to be ready all the time to compete in the game. I’ve got to be ready all the time,” Aquino said. “Just put the ball in play.”

Aquino also watched as fellow outfielder Castellanos became the first Reds player to reach the 30-homer plateau in 2021.

“He’s pretty special,” Aquino said. “Everyone is happy for him. He hits his 30th, and that’s very special.”

Soto made Washington franchise history Friday by walking in his first two times at-bat to reach base in 12 straight plate appearances. The first-inning walk off Reds starter Sonny Gray broke Nick Johnson’s record of 10 in a row in 2019.

“I played with a guy who was pretty impressive in his day, and that was Barry (Bonds),” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “If you compare anyone to Barry right now, it’s him.”

Soto walked in the third to extend his streak before striking out against reliever Amir Garrett in the fifth.

The Reds will send rookie right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez (9-6, 4.53 ERA) to the mound looking to end a run of rough outings.

Gutierrez has been pulled in the fourth inning of three of his last four starts in September, including last Monday against Pittsburgh. He allowed five runs on seven hits in a no-decision.

Saturday will mark Gutierrez’s first career start against Washington.

Washington (64-90) will counter with Erick Fedde (7-9, 5.10).

Fedde will make his first appearance against Cincinnati since 2019, when he went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two starts. It’s been a rough September for the right-hander, as he has a 5.21 ERA to go with a 1-0 record in four starts.

–Field Level Media

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