WASHINGTON (AP) - The most the Cincinnati Reds could take away from this loss to the Washington Nationals is that they got more than one hit.
Center fielder Denard Span made pair of impressive catches to halt Reds rallies, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer and scored twice, and Dan Haren had his best start of the young season as the Nationals beat the Reds 6-3 Saturday.
The Reds manager nine hits after being one-hit in dropping each of the first two games of the series.
``We're getting there,' Reds manager Dusty Baker said. ``We're close, we're big time close.'
Trailing 6-2 in the seventh, the Reds got a two-out RBI single from pinch-hitter Todd Frazier off Tyler Clippard to make it 6-3. Shin-Soo Choo then walked to load the bases and Jack Cozart hit a laser to left-center, but Span's running catch ended the threat.
In the sixth, after Choo homered to lead off and Cozart singled, Span thwarted the rally when he raced to the wall in left-center and made a jumping catch to take at least an extra-base hit away from Joey Votto.
``I got a great jump on both of those balls,' Span said. ``On Votto, I was already playing deep, respecting his power. I'm not sure if the ball would have went over, but I was prepared to bring it back if it did go out.'
Added Baker: ``(We were) two hits away, had it not been for Span, from tying that game up or even going ahead. Those were two heck of a plays. Very rarely do you see two Web Gems in one game.'
Brandon Phillips had three hits and ended the Reds 17-inning scoring drought in the fourth when he singled home Votto, who had doubled.
``I feel like we're still a good team and we're in a little funk right now,' Phillips said. ``Every team goes through it. A loss is a loss regardless of how many hits we got. It doesn't matter how many hits or how many runs we score, it's all about who scores the most runs. We didn't do that (Saturday).'
Haren (2-3) didn't quite match Jordan Zimmermann's one-hitter and Gio Gonzalez's impressive eight innings of one-hit ball the previous two games, but he was sharp enough. Haren, who was roughed up by Cincinnati for six runs and nine hits in four innings of a 15-0 loss on April 5, lowered his ERA from 7.36 to 6.29 in his longest outing of the year. Rafael Soriano pitched a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.
Reds starter Mike Leake (1-1) gave up four runs, three earned, in three innings. He gave up six hits and walked three.
``They had a good game plan and I wasn't attacking them completely,' Leake said.
The Nationals scored twice in the second. Ian Desmond and Anthony Rendon drew one-out walks. Kurt Suzuki popped out, but Haren blooped a single into short right field scoring Desmond. Rendon went to third and scored when Span singled.
Harper and Werth opened the third with singles and, after Adam LaRoche flied out, Desmond singled, scoring Harper. Leake fanned Rendon, but Suzuki hit a grounder toward the hole between third and shortstop. Third baseman Jack Hannahan made a diving stop, but threw wide to second and Werth scored as the ball rolled into right field.
Harper put the Nationals ahead 6-1 in the fourth, homering into the Washington bullpen on a 1-2 pitch off Alfredo Simon with Danny Espinosa on first. It was Harper's ninth of the season.
NOTES: Reds LF Chris Heisey left the game in the third inning with a strained right hamstring. . Nationals C Wilson Ramos, on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring, caught three innings and went 0 for 1 with a walk Friday night in the first game of a rehab assignment with Double-A Harrisburg. Washington manager Davey Johnson said Ramos will travel with the team to Atlanta Sunday. He's eligible to come off the DL Monday. .. Cincinnati LHP Chris Cingrani (1-0, 2.25) opposes LHP Ross Detwiler (1-1, 1.38) in Sunday's finale.
The Associated Press News Service
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