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Ramirez responds to call-up with first career victory

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Elizardo Ramirez earned major league win No. 1. Livan Hernandez was undone by inning No. 1, yet again.

Relying on good off-speed stuff, Ramirez pitched effectively into the eighth inning, and the Cincinnati Reds rode some early offense to a 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals on Monday night.

"I was concentrating on getting ahead on hitters, to make it easier," Ramirez said. "I was very confident."

Washington fell to 1-5 at home this season, and the announced crowd of 19,264 was the smallest at 46,382-capacity RFK Stadium since baseball returned to the capital.

At 13-7, the Reds are off to their best 20-game start since 1994, when they were 14-6.

The 23-year-old Ramirez (1-0) was called up from Triple-A Louisville to make his first appearance for the Reds since a spot start on July 4, 2005. Throwing mostly in the 80s and occasionally showcasing a fastball in the low 90s, the right-hander allowed two runs and six hits -- five singles -- in seven-plus innings.

He walked one and even recorded his first big league hit.

Shortstop Royce Clayton said the Nationals were able to study only about 20 pitches of video before facing Ramirez.

"That didn't tell us a heck of a lot," Clayton said.

It was another example of the Nationals struggling against an unheralded pitcher.

While Washington has won games started by Houston's Roy Oswalt and Atlanta's John Smoltz this season, it also managed just three hits over seven innings against Mets rookie Brian Bannister when he earned his first major league victory April 11.

"We don't seem to be able to handle pitchers we don't know. First-time guys, we seem to struggle with them," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "We're just not swinging the bats very well right now."

The Reds, who have won five of six, took a 3-0 lead against Hernandez (1-3) in the opening inning by stringing together four hits, including doubles by Felipe Lopez and Edwin Encarnacion. They were helped by an error on right fielder Jose Guillen, who had trouble picking up the ball when Lopez's hit caromed off a wall.

Hernandez has allowed 12 first-inning runs in five starts.

"The first inning's been tough for him this year," catcher Brian Schneider said. "We just need to nip that in the bud as quick as possible and get that figured out."

The Reds tacked on another run in the second. Javier Valentin tripled past a diving Alfonso Soriano in left and scored on Lopez's single.

"We told (Ramirez), 'We're going to score some runs for you,'" Valentin said. "We told him, 'Just concentrate, make your pitches and locate the ball.'"

Hernandez went seven innings, allowing four runs and eight hits. His ERA actually dropped, from 7.11 to 6.68. Washington has lost eight of his last 10 starts dating to Sept. 1, 2005.

"Everybody's waiting for me to do a better job," said Hernandez, an All-Star who had offseason surgery on his right knee and says it's not hampering him. "Everybody knows I can pitch better. It's difficult for me."

Things began a tad roughly for Ramirez, who was 0-3 in 13 previous appearances in the majors for Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

The first batter he faced, Soriano, singled to center, then tagged up and took second on a flyout and scored on Nick Johnson's single. But Ramirez set down the next 12 hitters in a row. The Nationals scored again off him in the sixth, but two hits, a walk, and a throwing error on third baseman Encarnacion all added up to a solitary run on Guillen's RBI single.

Ramirez stayed ahead of hitters all night, and left after giving up Soriano's single leading off the eighth on his 94th pitch. Brian Shackelford and Todd Coffey finished that inning, and David Weathers pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

The Nationals left two runners on in the sixth and eighth.

"When you're trying to make up ground," Clayton said, "you can't let those opportunities get away."

Notes

  • Ramirez singled off Hernandez in the seventh.
  • Nationals INF-OF Marlon Anderson flied out in the seventh, making him 0-for-11 as a pinch-hitter since getting a hit on opening day.
  • Ramirez took the roster spot of LHP Eric Milton, who had knee surgery Monday and went on the 15-day DL.
  • Soriano has a hit in 10 consecutive games.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Just called up, Elizardo Ramirez yields two runs on six hits and one walk over seven innings.  (Getty Images)
Just called up, Elizardo Ramirez yields two runs on six hits and one walk over seven innings. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Cincinnati

E. Ramirez
IP 7.0
H 6
ER 2
BB 1
K 4
Cincinnati

F. Lopez
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 1
 

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Ryan Freel, CF3110102 .298
Felipe Lopez, SS4121011 .288
Adam Dunn, LF4001011 .242
Austin Kearns, RF4110020 .303
Scott Hatteberg, 1B4000001 .283
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B4011000 .266
    David Weathers, P0000000 .000
Brandon Phillips, 2B4010001 .362
Javier Valentin, C4120001 .261
Elizardo Ramirez, P3010002 .333
    Brian Shackelford, P0000000 .000
    Todd Coffey, P0000000 .000
   a- Rich Aurilia, PH-3B1000001 .263
Totals354931410 
a-flied out for Coffey in the 9th
Batting
2B - Felipe Lopez (5, Hernandez), Edwin Encarnacion (8, Hernandez)
3B - Javier Valentin (1, Hernandez)
RBI - Felipe Lopez (9), Adam Dunn (15), Edwin Encarnacion (18)
2-OUT RBI - Edwin Encarnacion (4)
SB - Brandon Phillips (1, 2nd base off Rauch/Schneider)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
E - Edwin Encarnacion (8, Wild throw)
Cincinnati Reds
Elizardo Ramirez (W,1-0) 7622140 2.57
Brian Shackelford (H,1) 0.1000000 0.00
Todd Coffey (H,5) 0.2000000 0.90
David Weathers (S,5) 1000110 3.12
HBP - N. Johnson (by Brian Shackelford)
Pitches-Strikes - Elizardo Ramirez 94-63, Brian Shackelford 5-4, Todd Coffey 4-3, David Weathers 16-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Elizardo Ramirez 8-9, Todd Coffey 1-1, David Weathers 1-1
Batters Faced - Elizardo Ramirez 28, Brian Shackelford 2, Todd Coffey 2, David Weathers 4
Washington Nationals
Alfonso Soriano, LF4120000 .338
Jose Vidro, 2B4110001 .361
Nick Johnson, 1B2011100 .388
Jose Guillen, RF4011012 .291
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4000003 .219
Ryan Church, CF3000102 .281
Royce Clayton, SS4010021 .258
Brian Schneider, C4000011 .180
Livan Hernandez, P2000011 .333
   a- Marlon Anderson, PH1000000 .118
    Joey Eischen, P0000000 .000
    Jon Rauch, P0000000 .000
   b- Daryle Ward, PH1000001 .308
Totals332622512 
a-flied out for Hernandez in the 7th
b-flied out for Rauch in the 9th
Batting
2B - Royce Clayton (3, Ramirez)
RBI - Nick Johnson (11), Jose Guillen (6)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Vidro-Clayton-N. Johnson
E - Jose Guillen (1, Misplayed grounder)
Washington Nationals
Livan Hernandez (L,1-3) 7844130 6.68
Joey Eischen 1000010 12.86
Jon Rauch 1100000 1.46
Pitches-Strikes - Livan Hernandez 118-66, Joey Eischen 10-7, Jon Rauch 21-15
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Livan Hernandez 7-10, Joey Eischen 1-1
Batters Faced - Livan Hernandez 29, Joey Eischen 3, Jon Rauch 4
Game Information
Attendance - 19264
Game Time - 2:38
Temperature - 71
Umpires - Home - Dan Iassogna, First Base - James Hoye, Second Base - Ron Kulpa, Third Base - Dale Scott