Postgame analysis of the Nats' 9-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds in 10 innings on Saturday night at Nationals Park.
How it happened: One day after they walked off the Reds in extra innings, the Nationals nearly did it again. This time, however, it was the Reds' turn for some late night heroics.
Down for much of the night against Reds starter Dan Straily, the Nationals finally broke out in the bottom of the eighth with a two-run homer by Danny Espinosa - his 16th of the season - and an RBI single by Bryce Harper. Harper's knock tied the game at 4-4 and eventually sent it to extras.
It was in the top of the 10th that Sammy Solis ran into trouble. He allowed back-to-back singles to Eugenio Suarez and Brandon Phillips, then saw Billy Hamilton bunt safely to load the bases. Tucker Barnhart then singled to right field in the next at-bat to score two runs. The first was charged to Solis, but the second came home thanks to an error by Harper, who couldn't field it on his first attempt.
It didn't stop there, though. Matt Belisle relieved Solis and allowed a run on a wild pitch, another on a Jose Peraza single and then one more on a Jay Bruce groundout. That made it 9-4 and put the game well out of reach for the Nationals. Three runs went to Solis, one was charged to Belisle.
The bullpen wasn't the only part of the Nats' pitching staff that had an off-night. Starter Joe Ross made it just 5 1/3 innings with four runs allowed on 10 hits, which tied a career-high.
The Nationals saw their six-game winning streak snapped and now enter Sunday hoping to avoid a split and secure their second straight series win.
What it means: The Nationals open the second half of the season with a loss and now sit 49-33 on the year. They fell to 3-3 on the season against the Reds and have lost nine of their last 13 in the head-to-head series overall.
Ross keeps struggling: There has been something off with Ross lately. The Nats' right-hander ended the month of May with a 2.37 ERA and looked well on his way to a breakout season and maybe even an All-Star nod. Since June began, however, Ross just hasn't been the same. Including Saturday night, his latest uneven outing, Ross has a 6.22 ERA in his last six games. Ross gave up four earned runs on a career-high 10 hits - he also gave up 10 hits in his previous start - and made it just 5 1/3 innings. Manager Dusty Baker removed him after just 84 pitches.
What may be more concerning is Ross' velocity, which appeared to be down significantly in the loss. He came out firing 95 miles per hour in the first at-bat of the night, then settled into the low 90s, at times topping out at 89 for extended periods. Ross' velocity has dipped slightly this season from 2015, but this definitely stood out as unusual.
Espinosa hits No. 16: The Nationals just played their 82nd game of the season and atop their team in homers is Harper, as expected. But he's not alone, as Espinosa's two-run bomb makes him tied with Harper at 16 on the season.
Revere has another solid night: One day after he led the Nats to victory with three hits, one of them a walk-off double, Revere came to play both at the plate and in the field against the Reds. He drove in the Nats' lone run on a triple to the right-center field gap in the third inning. It was very close to where he hit the double, but this one instead landed at the bottom of the wall and allowed him to reach third base for the third time this season.
On defense, Revere made a diving grab to rob Billy Hamilton of a potential RBI single and end the top of the fifth. Then, in the sixth he prevented a sacrifice fly by throwing a strike to home plate after catching the second out of the inning. Right after that he ended the top of the sixth on a leaping grab at the center field wall to steal an extra-base hit from Jay Bruce. Those last two plays helped Felipe Rivero get out of a jam with runners on the corners after Ross was pulled.
Up next: The Nats and Reds close out their four-game series with a 1:35 p.m. start on Sunday. We know that lefty John Lamb (1-4, 4.60) will be pitching for the Reds. As for the Nats' starter, it could be Stephen Strasburg or Lucas Giolito. Strasburg is considered a game-time decision.