Eds: Reds 6, Nationals 2. Updates with new lead. With AP Photos.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Scooter Gennett homered and got four hits, yet his most biggest contribution Sunday might have come with his arm.
After helping the Cincinnati Reds build a six-run lead, Gennett threw out Brian Goodwin at the plate on a fifth-inning relay, disrupting chance at a comeback in a 6-2 victory over the Washington Nationals.
“That was a huge play,” Reds starter Scott Feldman said. “I thought maybe the most important play of the game.”
The Reds won for just the second time in 15 games while avoiding a sweep.
Gennett got his most hits in a game since he had five while becoming the 17th major league player homer four times in a game on June 6.
“It was a good day for us,” Gennett said. “The first two games were pretty rough. It was a tough loss the first day and yesterday was pretty bad. To be able to get a win and bounce back is huge.”
Gennett’s RBI single came as Reds scored five times in the first inning off Tanner Roark (6-5). His 11th home run made it 6-0 in the second.
After Feldman (6-5) allowed Michael Taylor’s 11th home run to cut it to 6-2 in the fourth, the NL East-leading Nationals tried to rally.
Goodwin singled and Bryce Harper doubled to begin the fifth, with Washington third base coach Bob Henley trying to turn that into a run.
Henley sent Goodwin, who was out by a few steps after Gennett took right fielder Scott Schebler’s throw and fired home. That denied Harper an RBI on his three-hit day.
“Nobody feels worse than Bobby Henley in the whole ballpark,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “That probably wasn’t the optimum time to send the guys, because we were threatening and who knows what can happen. But that’s a job that I never wanted. I think that’s the toughest job on the field.”
Feldman retired the last eight batters he faced to complete seven innings and pick up his fourth win in five decisions.
“Taylor hits a two-run homer and (you think) ‘We could use a tack-on run,’” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “We didn’t get any more, but between Scott and the bullpen they were able to shut it down.”
Roark gave up six runs over six innings and 115 pitches after requiring 40 to complete the first.
The right-hander has now yielded 19 runs over his last three starts as his ERA has risen more than a run to 5.15, though he felt Sunday’s result owed more to bad fortune.
“I felt like I was making my pitches and sometimes stuff like that happens,” Roark said. “You can’t get overwhelmed or mad about it. You just tip your cap and keep going out there.”
HARPER STILL HOT
Harper also walked to reach base four times. He has now hit safely in 16 of his last 17 games and and recorded three hits in eight games this season.
The loss dropped Washington to 14-19 in day games this season.
“We’ve got to find a way to improve our daytime record,” Baker said. “That’s a nemesis for us this year.”
Reds: 3B Eugenio Suarez was out of the starting lineup for the first time since June 8, but came in as a defensive replacement and popped out in the ninth. He is hitting .180 over his last 17 games and is just 2 for 18 on the Reds’ road trip.
Nationals: LHP Sammy Solis (elbow) made a fifth rehab outing on Saturday night, retiring two batters on 11 pitches.
Reds: LHP Brandon Finnegan (1-0, 2.70) draws the start Monday at St. Louis in a makeup game from an April 29 rainout. It is Finnegan’s first outing since going on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury on April 16.
Nationals: Begin a four-game home series against the Cubs, who are combined .206 (20 for 97) against Gio Gonzalez (7-1, 2.96), Washington’s starter on Monday.