McCoy: Friedl sparks Reds past Nationals

The Cincinnati Reds were neither baffled nor befuddled at the Washington Nationals attempt at Flower Power on Saturday night.

The Nationals wore their alternative ‘WSH’ uniforms with cherry blossoms sprinkled on the front.

It didn’t matter. The Reds recognized the Nationals as the team with the worst record in major league baseball and battered them, 6-2.

The Reds used their own version of power, wood bat power. They blasted three home runs en route to winning their second straight to clinch the three-game series.

Kyle Farmer, T.J. Friedl and Colin Moran all hit home runs that accounted for the first five runs.

Farmer’s home run came in the first inning against Washington starter Paolo Espino. The Nats tied it in the second via a home run by Lane Thomas against Reds starter Luis Cessa.

It stayed 1-1 until the sixth. Farmer singled and Donovan Solano doubled him to third. With left-handed Friedl due up, Nats manager Dave Martinez brought in left hander Jake McGee.

He slipped two strikes past Friedl, then hung a slider and Friedl crushed a 393-footer toward the Washington Monument and a 4-1 Reds lead.

Friedl has been a hit man recently and if the opposition believes he can’t hit lefties, well Friedl is 4 for 11 with three extra base hits this season against southpaws.

One out later, Moran connected. Mike Moustakas was placed on the injured list before the game and Moran was called up from Class AAA Louisville, even though he was 2 for 20 with eight strikeouts for the Bats.

And Moran, a left-handed hitter, turned on left hander McGee’s hanging slider and dumped it into the right center bleachers.

In addition to his two-strike home run, Friedl put down a two-strike bunt for a hit and singled the opposite way for his third hit.

Defensively, Friedl leaped against the center field wall in the fourth inning to snag a drive by Keibert Ruiz, robbing Ruiz of at least a double when the game was 1-1.

As a center fielder, Friedl plays the position with the finesse of ballroom dancer Fred Astaire and matador El Cordoba.

Washington’s Espino left when it was 1-1, but the two men on base were his when Friedl homered, so his record dropped to 0-6.

And the Nationals have gone 43 straight games without a win from a starting pitcher, an all-time record.

For the Reds, it was a bullpen game with Cessa starting and producing. He pitched four innings and gave up one run, four hits, walked none and struck out one.

He deserved the victory, but a starting pitcher must pitch five innings to earn a victory. Instead, the win went to Ian Gibaut, who followed Cessa with two scoreless, hitless, one-walk innings.

Joel Kuhnel pitched the seventh and gave up a pair of hits as the Nats threatened to get back in the game. But Kuhnel worked out of it with no damage.

Buck Farmer gave up a two-out double to Joey Meneses in the eighth and a run-scoring single to Luke Voit, cutting Cincinnati’s lead to 5-2.

After a quick visit by pitching coach Derek Johnson, Farmer walked 42-year-old Nelson Cruz on a full count. That put two runners on with the potential tying run in the batter’s box.

And that hitter was Ruiz. Reds manager David Bell summoned Alexis Diaz from the bullpen. He threw one pitch and ended the inning on a ground ball to first base.

Jake Fraley beat an infield single with two outs in the ninth, enabling Jonathan India to extend his hitting streak to 10 games with a run-scoring double to make it 6-2.

Diaz struck out two, issued a walk, then ended it on a fly ball by Victor Robles in the ninth to hand the Nats their 85th defeat while the Reds won their 50th game against 75 losses.

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