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Washington at Cincinnati

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Freel's four hits power Reds, Belisle

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CINCINNATI -- Matt Belisle doesn't want to admit that he might pitch better when he doesn't know he's starting.

Pitching in place of an ailing Aaron Harang against Washington, Belisle bailed out a thin Cincinnati bullpen with six solid innings and Ryan Freel sparked the Reds offense with four hits as they completed a three-game sweep of the Nationals with a 12-3 win Wednesday.

Felipe Lopez hit a two-run homer and Austin Kearns drove in three runs as the Reds matched their season high for runs and completed their first sweep since opening the season with three consecutive wins against the New York Mets. The Reds haven't lost since cutting closer Danny Graves on Monday.

"Just playing better baseball is the best way to put it, I guess," manager Dave Miley said. "It all starts with that guy out there at the beginning of the game. Guys are starting to swing the bat better, but it starts with the starting pitching we're getting."

Former-Red Jose Guillen homered twice for Washington, which has lost five of its last six games. The Nationals were swept in a series of three or more games for the first time this year.

"We have to ride this thing out," Washington manager Frank Robinson said. "We're not pointing fingers. We're getting outhit, outpitched and outmanaged."

Belisle (2-4) got his first start of the season on April 13 at St. Louis, when he replaced injured Ramon Ortiz. He'd been told the night before that Ortiz might be sidelined with a groin injury, and he responded by allowing one run and four hits in Cincinnati's 6-5 win.

The rookie right-hander, the only nonstarter to not pitch in Tuesday's 14-inning win, had no warning that he would be making his first start since April 23. Harang was sidelined by flu-like symptoms, and Belisle didn't know he was starting until he arrived at the ballpark about 1½ hours before the game.

He responded by limiting the Nationals to two runs and five hits, and matching his personal best with six strikeouts in a career-high six innings.

"I guess that's my track record, but knowing or not knowing, it should be the same," Belisle said. "The big thing is to establish consistency. I knew the bullpen was depleted, and I wanted to give them as much as I could, so I wanted to be aggressive."

Freel went 4-for-6, doubling twice, singling and matching his career high for hits. Ken Griffey Jr. batted third for the first time this season and went 3-for-3 with two walks, raising his average to .253. He was 0-for-16 before a fifth-inning single.

"I made a little adjustment today," Freel said. "I've been working with (hitting coach) Chris Chambliss because I was getting under the ball, so I changed the path of my swing."

Claudio Vargas (0-3) lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up three runs -- two earned -- three hits and three walks. He has lasted a total 6 2/3 innings in his last three starts, and his ERA is up to 9.24.

Washington allowed its most runs this year.

Freel singled leading off the bottom of the first and Lopez followed with his sixth homer. Freel then made it 3-0 in the third when he hit a two-out double, stole third and scored when catcher Gary Bennett's throw hit him and bounced into foul territory for an error.

Washington got a run in the fourth when Guillen doubled and scored on Brendan Harris' infield single, but Cincinnati made it 6-1 in the fifth on Kearns' two-run double and Javier Valentin's sacrifice fly.

Guillen, who has 10 homers this year, homered off Belisle in the sixth and Ricky Stone in the eighth for his sixth multihomer game and second this season.

Freel homered off Hector Carrasco in the sixth. Kearns hit an RBI single in a five-run eighth off Zach Day that included a two-run double by Jacob Cruz, an RBI double by pinch-hitter Luis Lopez and a single that produced William Bergolla's first career RBI.

Notes

  • The Reds won 12-4 at Philadelphia on May 14.
  • Washington's previous high for runs allowed this year was in an 11-2 loss at Atlanta on April 11.
  • Guillen homered twice at Atlanta on April 13.
  • Sean Casey, who had been hitting third for Cincinnati, is day to day with a bruised left rotator cuff he sustained while trying to make a diving stop of Guillen's sharp grounder Tuesday.
  • Cruz's start was his first of the season after 27 appearances as a pinch hitter. He became the last NL non-pitcher who was on an opening-day roster to play a defensive position.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Felipe Lopez congratulates the Reds' Ryan Freel after he hit a home run in the sixth inning. (AP)
Felipe Lopez congratulates the Reds' Ryan Freel after he hit a home run in the sixth inning. (AP)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

R. Freel
AB 6
R 3
H 4
HR 1
RBI 1
Washington

J. Guillen
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 2
RBI 2
 
Washington Nationals
Brad Wilkerson, CF4010011 .275
    Zach Day, P0000000 .125
Jamey Carroll, 2B3000010 .275
Nick Johnson, 1B3000010 .311
Jose Guillen, RF4332012 .300
Ryan Church, LF3010102 .299
Brendan Harris, 3B4021001 .429
Gary Bennett, C4000001 .240
Cristian Guzman, SS3000111 .185
Claudio Vargas, P0000000 .500
    Jon Rauch, P2000023 .000
    Hector Carrasco, P0000000 .000
   a- Marlon Byrd, PH-CF2010011 .351
Totals323832812 
a-singled for Carrasco in the 7th
Batting
2B - Brad Wilkerson (17, Belisle), Jose Guillen (12, Belisle), Brendan Harris (1, Coffey)
HR - Jose Guillen 2 (10, Belisle, Stone)
SH - Jamey Carroll (7)
RBI - Jose Guillen 2 (27), Brendan Harris (3)
2-OUT RBI - Jose Guillen (8)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
E - Gary Bennett (4, ), Jose Guillen (3, wild throw)
Washington Nationals
Claudio Vargas (L,0-3) 1.2332311 9.24
Jon Rauch 3.1433130 4.00
Hector Carrasco 1211101 2.19
Zach Day 2555320 6.75
IBB - Dunn by Zach Day
Pitches-Strikes - Claudio Vargas 50-0, Jon Rauch 53-0, Hector Carrasco 16-0, Zach Day 45-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jon Rauch 1-6, Hector Carrasco 2-1, Zach Day 4-0
Batters Faced - Claudio Vargas 11, Jon Rauch 15, Hector Carrasco 6, Zach Day 14
Cincinnati Reds
Ryan Freel, 3B-LF6341002 .333
Felipe Lopez, SS2212311 .307
Ken Griffey Jr., CF3230200 .253
Adam Dunn, 1B4210115 .247
Austin Kearns, RF4223102 .261
Jacob Cruz, LF5112013 .226
    Todd Coffey, P0000000 .000
Javier Valentin, C3001114 .186
William Bergolla, 2B5011011 .138
Matt Belisle, P2000010 .000
   a- Jason Romano, PH1000000 .000
    Ricky Stone, P1000001 .000
   b- Luis Lopez, PH-3B1011000 .300
Totals371214118619 
a-grounded out for Belisle in the 6th
b-doubled for Stone in the 8th
Batting
2B - Ryan Freel 2 (10, Vargas, Rauch), Austin Kearns (10, Rauch), Jacob Cruz (3, Day), Luis Lopez (2, Day)
HR - Ryan Freel (1, Carrasco), Felipe Lopez (6, Vargas)
SF - Javier Valentin (2)
RBI - Ryan Freel (3), Felipe Lopez 2 (21), Austin Kearns 3 (24), Jacob Cruz 2 (4), Javier Valentin (4), William Bergolla (1), Luis Lopez (1)
2-OUT RBI - William Bergolla (1), Luis Lopez (1)
SB - Ryan Freel (12, off Rauch/Bennett), Felipe Lopez (4, 3rd base off Rauch/Bennett)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
DP - F. Lopez-Bergolla-Dunn, Bergolla-F. Lopez-Dunn
Cincinnati Reds
Matt Belisle (W,2-4) 6522261 4.67
Ricky Stone 2211011 4.50
Todd Coffey 1100010 8.18
IBB - Guzman by Matt Belisle
HBP - N. Johnson (by Matt Belisle)
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Belisle 85-0, Ricky Stone 27-0, Todd Coffey 9-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Belisle 9-2, Ricky Stone 1-3, Todd Coffey 1-1
Batters Faced - Matt Belisle 25, Ricky Stone 7, Todd Coffey 4
Game Information
Attendance - 20497
Game Time - 2:59
Temperature - 60
Umpires - Home - Andy Fletcher, First Base - Bob Davidson, Second Base - Rob Drake, Third Base - Mike Reilly