CINCINNATI -- A heads-up defensive play helped Mike Bacsik earn his first win in almost three years.
"Honestly, in the first couple of innings, I didn't think I pitched very well," Bacsik said. "I got away with some pitches, but I was able to make some adjustments that kept me from getting killed."
Had he not made a smart play in the eighth inning, however, he likely wouldn't have gotten the win.
Bacsik and the Nationals were leading 4-1 in the eighth when David Ross and pinch-hitter Norris Hopper led off with back-to-back singles. Ryan Freel followed with a line drive to second baseman Felipe Lopez, whose backhanded flip trying to catch Ross off second got past shortstop Cristian Guzman.
Ross took off for third and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman chased down the ball in short left field. Bacsik covered third, and Zimmerman's throw to the pitcher was in time to nail the sliding runner.
Alex Gonzalez followed with what would have a game-tying home run.
"That play at third really picked me up," Bacsik said. "I saw (Zimmerman) go after the ball, and I knew I had to cover third, but I was already on my way there to back up the play."
"Right now, guys are trying so hard to make something happen," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "I'm sure Ross looked up, saw nobody at third and took off."
Ross left the clubhouse before the media arrived.
Bacsik (1-0), in his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on May 19, allowed one walk and struck out four to earn his sixth career win and first since Aug. 4, 2004, when he pitched seven shutout innings in Texas's 8-0 win at Detroit.
The Nationals won for the fourth time in its last five games. The Nationals won three of the four games in the series for the franchise's first winning trip to Cincinnati since the Montreal Expos took two of three on Sept. 26-28, 2003.
Washington's 10th win in its last 14 games left the Reds with the National League's worst record (18-30). The Reds have lost 17 of their last 22 games.
Billy Traber finished the eighth and Chad Cordero pitched the ninth for his sixth save in 10 opportunities.
Matt Belisle (4-4) has allowed a career-high 10 hits in each of his last three starts. He gave up four runs and a walk with two strikeouts.
"I had some really well-executed pitches, but I had some two-strike mistakes that cost me, and that's unacceptable," Belisle said. "We have no room for error right now."
Guzman lined Belisle's fifth pitch of the game 378 feet into the right field seats for his first home run of the season.
The shortstop led off the Washington's two-run fourth with a bouncing single up the middle and moved to second on Ryan Zimmerman's infield single to third. One out later, Austin Kearns drove in Guzman and advanced Zimmerman to second with a single to left, and Zimmerman scored with Kearns moving to second on Young's single to center field.
Kearns scored from first in the sixth on Young's bloop to left field that bounced past a diving Adam Dunn for a double.
Young is 13-for-23 (.565) with four doubles, a home run and eight RBI in his last eight games.
"I'm seeing the ball well, and I got a little help from Adam Dunn, which I appreciated," Young said.
Dunn broke up Bacsik's shutout with a 416-foot home run to center field on the first pitch of the fifth inning.
Guzman's home run was his first since Sept. 15, 2005, against the Mets at New York. ... He is 7-for-16 (.438) when leading off an inning. ... Dunn's 12th homer of the season was his first in 41 at-bats dating back to May 10 in Cincinnati's 9-5 win over the Astros in Cincinnati. ... The Reds optioned RHP Todd Coffey to Triple-A Louisville and recalled RHP Gary Majewski from Louisville before the game. He pitched a scoreless 2-3 of an inning in the ninth.