CINCINNATI — National League batting leader Juan Soto homered in consecutive innings, and the Washington Nationals pushed the Cincinnati Reds further from playoff contention with a 3-2 win Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Seeking his second straight NL batting title, Soto raised his average to .325 with a three-hit night and is four points ahead of the Los Angeles’ Dodgers Trea Turner. Soto’s his former Nationals teammate had a three-hit game at Colorado.
Soto led off the sixth against Luis Castillo with an opposite-field drive to left that bounced off the top of the wall and into the stands. He homered to the opposite field again in the seventh for his 29th homer and third in two nights.
Soto, who turns 23 on Oct. 25, has 11 multihomer games, one behind Eddie Mathews for the most before a player’s 23rd birthday.
Patrick Corbin (9-15) allowed four hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings with seven strikeouts and four walks as last-place Washington won for the fourth time in five games.
Mason Thompson finished the seventh, former Red-Tanner Rainey pitched the eighth and Kyle Finnegan gave up two runs in the ninth before getting his 11th save in 14 chances.
Luis Castillo (8-16) broke a tie with Corbin for the most losses in the majors, allowing two runs, six hits and three walks in six innings. He is 2-6 in his last nine starts, which includes four losses in which the Reds scored one run in each game.
Cincinnati struck out 11 times, was 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners. The Reds had the bases loaded with one out in the third, but Nick Castellanos and Joey Votto struck out, then had runners at the corners in the fourth before Castillo grounded out.
Josh Bell’s RBI grounder in the first and Soto’s home runs built a 3-0 lead.
Pinch-hitter Max Schrock had an RBI triple into the right-field corner in the ninth and scored on Tucker Barnhart’s grounder.
Nationals: OF Yadiel Hernandez went on the paternity list. RHP Jhon Romero was promoted from Triple-A Rochester.
Reds: LHP Wade Miley was pushed back from his scheduled start on Friday after reporting tightness around his neck in his last start.
Nationals: RHP Paolo Espino (5-5) is Washington’s scheduled starter for Friday’s second game of the four-game series.
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