Major League Baseball

Hot-hitting Nationals open series at Cincinnati

mlb5NATIONALS (24-32) AT REDS (26-30)
7:10 p.m. ET; FS-O, MASN2, MLB.TV

The Washington Nationals ignited their offense as a means to alter their fortunes on the heels of a season-worst, five-game losing skid.

After erupting for 47 runs en route to winning five of their last six contests, the Nationals look to continue their scoring ways on Friday when they open a three-game road series against the Cincinnati Reds.

“We had guys injured, we had guys come back. We had guys that played that needed to just play games,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said following the Nationals’ 14-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. “And now things are starting to click a little bit and they’re starting to play. Our lineup’s got some length now, and we’re starting to extend some innings.”

Juan Soto had an RBI single and a solo home run Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 13 games, during which he is batting a robust .449 (22-for-49) with three homers, 13 RBIs and 13 runs.

Soto told reporters that he is inching his way back to his 2018 form.

“Really close, really close,” the 20-year-old left fielder said. “I need a little bit more, but I’m really close to (last year). I feel amazing.”

While Soto is in the midst of a career-high run, Cincinnati’s Derek Dietrich is having a career season. The 29-year-old infielder followed up his trio of two-run homers on Tuesday with two more hits and an RBI on Wednesday in the Reds’ 7-2 setback to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Nationals left-hander Patrick Corbin (5-2, 2.85 ERA) will be charged with keeping Dietrich in check when he takes the mound on Friday.

Corbin enters the contest with momentum, as he improved to 3-1 in his past four starts on Saturday by recording his second career shutout in a 5-0 romp over Miami. He scattered four hits, walked one and struck out five against the Marlins.

The 29-year-old is 2-3 with a 3.74 ERA in nine career appearances (eight starts) versus Cincinnati. In his most recent meeting with the Reds, on May 30, 2018, he allowed a season-high six runs on eight hits in six innings during a 7-4 setback.

Eugenio Suarez (6-for-13, homer) and Jose Peraza (5-for-12) have fared well versus Corbin. Joey Votto is just 4-for-19 with five strikeouts against the hurler.

Suarez hopes to be in the lineup for the series opener after he was plunked on the left hand in the eighth inning on Wednesday. Tensions rose when Suarez elected to take a few steps toward the mound.

“I don’t know if they are going to hit me on purpose. That’s why I walked up to him and asked him if he hit me on purpose,” said Suarez, a 27-year-old Venezuelan. “He said, ‘No. Definitely not.’ I just said I wanted to make sure because I don’t like that pitch up and in, right on my face. He said, ‘No.’

“The catcher (Elias Diaz) told me, too, in Spanish — he’s from Venezuela — ‘No, we don’t want to hit you.’ I just said, ‘I wanted to make sure because that hurt.’ Thank God my hand feels good. No break. Just a contusion. I hope to be all right for Friday.”

Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (1-5, 4.15 ERA) looks to rebound after allowing three homers and a season-high six runs in his last start — a no-decision at the Chicago Cubs on Saturday.

In his lone career start against the Nationals, Mahle also yielded six runs in 1 2/3 innings at Washington on Aug. 2, 2018.

–Field Level Media

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