Espinosa hits slam, 3-run HR as Nationals crush Reds 13-4
WASHINGTON (AP) — Danny Espinosa hit a grand slam and a three-run homer to finish with a career-high seven RBIs, and the Washington Nationals cruised past the Cincinnati Reds 13-4 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.
Espinosa’s second career slam put Washington up 8-1 in the third inning, and his next drive made it 13-1 in the fourth. Espinosa ranks second on the team with 15 homers despite usually batting eighth.
The switch-hitting shortstop connected off Brandon Finnegan (3-7) batting right-handed, then went deep from the left side against Josh Smith.
Espinosa’s previous career high for RBIs was six, and his only other grand slam came in his fifth major league game on Sept. 6, 2010.
Gio Gonzalez (4-7) gave up four runs and struck out nine over six innings for the NL East-leading Nationals, whose current winning streak comes on the heels of a seven-game skid. Gonzalez was 0-6 with an 8.44 ERA in his previous seven starts.
Ryan Zimmerman got the rout started with a three-run homer in the first inning against the lowly Reds, who have lost eight of nine.
Joey Votto homered for Cincinnati, which has yielded 40 runs in its last four games — all of them defeats.
Espinosa’s slam chased Finnegan, who surrendered eight runs, five hits and five walks in 2 1/3 innings.
Smith provided little relief, giving up five runs and four hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Washington tied a season high for runs in a game without receiving a contribution from reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper, who was given the night off by manager Dusty Baker.
"His legs are a little tired," Baker said, noting that Harper twisted his ankle earlier in the week. "He’s been playing through things the last couple days."
Reds: RHP Caleb Cotham (right shoulder inflammation) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Thursday night at Class-AA Pensacola against Chattanooga. Manager Bryan Price said the plan is to have Cotham pitch around five times in the minors, "and then we’ll reassess." Cotham has been on the DL since May 31. … OF Billy Hamilton passed concussion protocol and was in the starting lineup after being struck in the face by a deflected line drive Wednesday.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (back, ribs) is eligible to return from the DL on Friday, but that almost certainly will not happen. "I’m more inclined not to rush him," Baker said.
Reds: RHP Anthony DeSclafani (2-0, 1.52 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season, bringing a 13-inning scoreless streak into Friday night’s game against Washington.
Nationals: RHP Tanner Roark (7-5, 2.96) is 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA over his last four starts.