Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Edwin Jackson and the Nationals try to make it five in a row this afternoon.
Davey Johnson does get one of his regulars back, with Rick Ankiel officially activated off the 15-day DL and inserted right into the starting center field position. Ankiel's return sends struggling Roger Bernadina (4-for-28, 8 strikeouts) to the bench. Xavier Nady, whose pinch-hit homer in the bottom of the eighth last night made the extra innings possible, gets the start in left field today.
Coming off a pedestrian debut in New York (three runs allowed in five innings), Edwin Jackson will look to continue this superb stretch by the Nationals rotation. Ross Detwiler, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann collectively gave up one run over 25 innings the last four days. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
CINCINNATI REDS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 4:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), XM 188
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 74 degrees, Wind 14 mph out to CF
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
LF Xavier Nady
CF Rick Ankiel
C Jesus Flores
RHP Edwin Jackson
2B Willie Harris
SS Zack Cozart
1B Joey Votto
RF Jay Bruce
3B Miguel Cairo
LF Chris Heisey
CF Drew Stubbs
C Devin Mesoraco
RHP Homer Bailey
HP Tim Welke (cc), 1B Laz Diaz, 2B Mike Everitt, 3B Paul Schrieber
3:45 p.m. -- Before we get started, I figured everyone would want to see this photo: Brian Zuckerman making his first-ever appearance at Nationals Park. I thought about letting him take over the game thread, but then I realized my laptop would be under 10 inches of drool by the end of the afternoon. So he and Mrs. Z are watching comfortably from the stands.
4:07 p.m. -- We are underway. Edwin Jackson starts off Willie Harris with a fastball outside for ball one.
4:11 p.m. -- A very nice top of the first for Jackson, retiring the side on just seven pitches with a couple of groundballs to the right side and a flyout to right.
4:24 p.m. -- Jackson ran into trouble in the top of the second, giving up a one-out double to Miguel Cairo, then plunking Chris Heisey in the hip and allowing an RBI single to Drew Stubbs. But just when things looked like they might spiral out of control, Edwin got a big 5-3 double play grounder out of Devin Mesoraco. Saved that from becoming a big inning for the Reds. Instead, it's only 1-0 as we go to the bottom of the second.
4:30 p.m. -- Apparently that double (or the sprint around third base to score moments later) was too much for Cairo, because he's been replaced by Wilson Valdez.
4:40 p.m. -- Boy, Jesus Flores is off to an impressive start to the season, especially for a backup catcher who doesn't get to see many pitches. His line-drive single to left with two outs in the bottom of the second scored Jayson Werth and makes Flores 4-for-8 with two RBI on the young season. Nice to see him producing in the big leagues once again after a long road back from that shoulder injury. It's 1-1 as we go to the third.
4:47 p.m. -- Wow, you're going to see that Ryan Zimmerman play on every highlight reel tonight. I'm not entirely sure his barehand snag of Zack Cozart's high chopper was necessary, but it sure looked purty.
5:02 p.m. -- Because you know you're wondering ... Adam LaRoche now has 10 RBI for the season, Prince Fielder has 4. OK, so that's not going to hold up over six months. But seriously, where would the Nats be without LaRoche right now? He's just been huge for them at the plate and in the field. He's produced 33 percent of the Nationals' RBI so far, and his 2-run double just now in the bottom of the third puts them on top 3-1.
5:45 p.m. -- Bottom of the sixth now. I just got back from some time in the stands with Brian and Mrs. Z (who are doing quite well and enjoying the game with only a minor amount of crying so far). It's still 3-1, and Edwin Jackson is cruising. He's only thrown 57 pitches, allowing the one early run on two hits. Jesus Flores continues to rake at the plate; he's now 3-for-3 today and 6-for-10 for the season. He also appears to have overcome what looked like a nasty play at the plate in the bottom of the fourth, which left Flores dazed and limping off the field. But he appears to be fine.
5:59 p.m. -- Boy did Jackson know what his job was today, or what? With the bullpen needing a break following that 13-inning marathon, Edwin has cruised through seven innings of one-run ball. He's now retired 16 consecutive Reds, and his pitch count is a scant 66. There hasn't been a peep in the right-field bullpen yet this afternoon. Still 3-1 Nats.
6:10 p.m. -- Make it 4-1 as Werth delivers an RBI double into the right-field corner, scoring Espinosa from second. (It probably would have scored a fast runner from first. Unfortunately, LaRoche does not resemble that description at all.) Werth, by the way, is now hitting .333 for the season. We go to the eighth, and Jackson is back out to the mound.
6:24 p.m. -- Standing ovation for Jackson as he strikes out three more to wrap up the top of the eighth. He's still at only 85 pitches. Get this: In his career, Jackson has never completed eight innings with fewer than 99 pitches. What efficiency today. Still 4-1.
6:34 p.m. -- And another standing O for Edwin as he gets to hit for himself in the bottom of the eighth. He'll come back out in search of the complete game, the Nats leading 4-1.
6:40 p.m. -- That's it. Jackson goes the distance for the fifth complete game of his career. And the Nats win their fifth straight, 4-1, to remain in sole possession of first place in the NL East.