Reds drop series finale 12-1 as Strasburg, Nationals flirt with no-hitter

WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg was removed from a no-hit bid after 6 2/3 innings Sunday, and Ramon Cabrera singled against Matt Belisle leading off the eighth for Cincinnati’s first hit in the Washington Nationals’ 12-1 rout of the Reds on Sunday.

Activated from the disabled list before the game after missing two starts due to an upper back strain, Strasburg (11-0) threw 109 pitches, five shy of his season high. He left to a standing ovation from the crowd of 37.328 at Nationals Park and was replaced by Blake Treinen, who got Billy Hamilton to ground out.

Making his first appearance since June 15, Strasburg struck out five walked four — including two of the Reds’ first three batters. He then retired eight in a row, needing only eight pitches in each of the second and third innings.

Danny Espinosa homered twice, including his second grand slam in four games, and Wilson Ramos, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon hit solo homers.

Strasburg has won a franchise-record 14 straight decisions and is the first NL starter to begin a season 11-0 since San Diego’s Andy Hawkins in 1985.

John Lamb (1-5) allowed eight runs, eight hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. Cincinnati has lost 10 of 12.

Ramos homered in the second; his 13 homers lead catchers.

Espinosa homered after Lamb walked the bases loaded in the fourth. He hit a solo shot against Keyvius Sampson in the seventh, going deep back-to-back with Anthony Rendon for his team-leading 18th homer. Espinosa finished the week 11 for 26 (.423) with five homers and 16 RBIs in seven games.

Bryce Harper led off the fifth with his 17th homer. Stephen Drew hit a solo homer in the eighth, giving the Nationals a season-high six long balls in the game.

DUVALL SITS

Reds left fielder Adam Duvall was not in the starting lineup, his first scheduled day off since June 14.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: 1B Joey Votto returned to the lineup after he was scratched Saturday with a sore right shoulder. . RHP Caleb Cotham (right shoulder inflammation) was scheduled to make his second rehab appearance with Double-A Pensacola on Sunday night.

Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (right shoulder inflammation) was placed on the 15-day DL. He labored through 5 1/3 innings against the Reds on Saturday allowing a season-high 10 hits and four earned runs with a noticeable drop in velocity.

UP NEXT

Reds: LHP Cody Reed (0-2) is to make his fourth career start and his second against the Cubs in the opener of a three-game series in Chicago. The rookie allowed seven runs in four innings in a 9-2 loss to the Cubs last Thursday.

Nationals: RHP Max Scherzer (9-5) is to face the visiting Brewers in the opener of a three-game series. Scherzer went 4-1 with a 1.96 ERA in June. He took the loss in a 5-3 defeat in Milwaukee on June 24.