Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Nationals’ home run celebrations reached a new level Tuesday night.

A pair of long balls in the fourth inning fueled a 3-1 victory at home against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Nationals are now 64-55 and began the night six games back of first-place Atlanta in the National League East. However, the Nationals were in the lead in the wild card race.

Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (ankle) and second baseman Brian Dozier (salmonella), who both missed Monday’s game with various ailments, hit solo homers against Reds lefty Alex Wood in the fourth to give Washington a 3-0 lead.

Dozier got a piggyback ride from batting practice pitcher Ali Modami in the dugout after his homer, much to the delight of teammates.

But it was outfielder Gerardo Parra — he of “Baby Shark” fame — who helped catapult the home run hijinks when he joined the team in May.

Soto hit his 25th home run of the season in the fourth inning with a solo shot on a 1-2 pitch from Wood to give the Nationals a lead of 2-0. Two batters later, Dozier hit his 17th homer.

“(Soto) checked all the boxes,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “He said he felt great.”

Washington starter Joe Ross had his scoreless inning streak end at 17 1/3 frames when Jose Iglesias singled in a run with two outs in the seventh. Ross’ streak was the longest of any Washington pitcher this season.

Hunter Strickland came out of the bullpen to get the last out and keep the score at 3-1.

Ross (3-3) was aided in the sixth by center fielder Victor Robles, who made a great throw to retire a runner at third after a single by Jesse Winker.

A right-hander who has spent time in the minors this year, Ross gave up just one run on five hits in 6 2/3 innings for his third strong start in a row.

Virginia native Daniel Hudson got the last four outs to get his first save with Washington and third of the season. Hudson left two runners on base to end the game as he retired Tucker Barnhart on strikes.

The Nationals got a run in the first as the result of the defensive shift by the Reds. With runners on first and third with one out, Soto hit a groundball to Reds first baseman Joey Votto.

Votto stepped on first for the second out and threw to second to retire Anthony Rendon, but not before Robles crossed the plate with the first run.

Soto was not credited with an RBI as he hit into the double play.

The Nationals and Reds (56-62) conclude their series on Wednesday at 4:05 p.m.  Washington’s Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 3.72) faces the Reds‘ Trevor Bauer (10-8, 3.74).

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