WASHINGTON -- If the Cincinnati Reds keep putting up runs at this pace, whatever pitching problems they have might not matter.
Edwin Encarnacion tied his career high with four RBI, and Cincinnati took advantage of Washington starter Billy Traber's wildness to take an early lead Tuesday night, then held on for a 6-5 victory over the Nationals.
"Our mind set for each game is to score as many runs as possible in any way we can. It just so happens we're getting them early," said Adam Dunn, who scored twice. "It takes a lot of pressure off our pitchers."
The Reds have won six of their last seven to improve to 14-7, their first time seven games over .500 since July 4, 2004.
Cincinnati's 131 runs this season, a 6.2 average, lead the majors. That's helped the Reds overcome a 5.37 ERA heading into Tuesday that ranked 22nd of 30 teams.
"Once we got those runs, I felt like I could attack the strike zone," said Cincinnati starter Dave Williams (1-2), who allowed six earned runs in each of his previous two outings. "Our offense has been doing that all year, giving us some room and letting us be aggressive."
Washington dropped to 1-6 at home. Traber (1-1) lasted only 1 1/3 innings, forcing the Nationals to go deep into their bullpen, using five relievers.
"We needed him to give us innings," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said, then explained his second-inning removal of Traber by adding: "You can't let the game get out of hand to where you have no chance."
Williams wasn't brilliant but good enough for the win, allowing four runs and nine hits in five-plus innings. He gave up rookie Ryan Zimmerman's two-run homer in the second and Alfonso Soriano's solo shot in the fifth.
Traber faced 11 batters, and seven reached base -- four hits, two walks and a hit batsman. A night after scoring three first-inning runs off Livan Hernandez, the Reds scored four in the opening inning off Traber, who walked in a run and gave up Encarnacion's two-run single and Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly.
Traber began the second by walking Williams, drawing some boos. After Felipe Lopez followed by singling to center, Traber was removed.
"We didn't pitch very well. We weren't consistently throwing strikes, and things piled up," Traber said.
It was a big falloff from Traber's debut with the Nationals last week, when he gave up two hits in 5 2/3 innings in a win over Philadelphia. That was the lefty's first start in the majors in more than 2½ years, because he missed all of 2004 after having reconstructive elbow surgery the previous September.
"I don't think he felt his fastball was where he wanted it tonight," catcher Matthew LeCroy said. "When you do that, a team like that's going to beat you."
The Reds went up 6-2 in the fifth on Encarnacion's two-run double off Felix Rodriguez when left fielder Soriano misjudged the ball.
"I was patient, saw the ball very well, had confidence and hit the ball well," said Encarnacion, who has 16 RBI in his last eight games.
The Nationals chipped away at the Reds' lead, scoring two in the second, and one each in the fifth and sixth off Williams, then another in the seventh off Todd Coffey, an unearned run thanks to shortstop Lopez's throwing error. But Washington could have had more, erasing runners by hitting into three double plays.
David Weathers pitched the ninth for his sixth save.
- Nationals RHP John Patterson will miss his next scheduled start because of a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm. Patterson originally was slated to start the series finale against the Reds on Wednesday, then was going to be pushed back a day. RHP Ramon Ortiz will start Wednesday.
- Washington fell to 1-4 in one-run games.
- Reds CF Ryan Freel went 0-for-5, failing to reach base for the first time this season.