CINCINNATI (AP) -- Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each hit a two-run homer Friday night in one of Washington's biggest scoring splurges of the season, leading the light-hitting Nationals to a 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. Washington matched its season high for runs by taking advantage of Mike Leake (0-5), who lasted three innings and remained winless in six starts. He gave up seven hits and six runs, including the homers by Bernadina and Espinosa. It's the second time Leake has failed to last four innings this season. Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (4-1) struck out a season-high nine batters -- including six in a row -- but lasted only five innings because of a high pitch count. His performance came one day after Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 Pirates, including seven in a row, for a 4-2 win. Bernadina also had one of Washington's three homers in the win in Pittsburgh. The Nationals are in first place in the NL East on the strength of their pitching, which had allowed only 93 runs heading into the Cincinnati series -- fewest in the majors. Washington's .237 team batting average ranked near the bottom of the league. Washington got rolling right away against Leake, who gave up Bernadina's homer and Adam LaRoche's RBI double before getting an out. He threw 28 pitches before retiring a batter. Bernadina also singled home a run in the second. Espinosa hit his second homer in the third inning, forcing manager Dusty Baker to get his bullpen working. Gonzalez gave up a pair of runs and didn't allow a homer in one of the majors' most hitter-friendly ballparks. He hasn't allowed a homer in his last eight starts since Sept. 23, a span of 50 innings that is the longest such streak of his career. It's also the longest active streak in the majors. Too many pitches was the problem. Jay Bruce hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and the Reds had a chance to get back into the game when Gonzalez lost his touch in the fifth. Zack Cozart singled home a run to cut it to 7-2, and Cincinnati loaded the bases with back-to-back walks and only one out. Gonzalez threw a fastball past Bruce for a strikeout, then got Scott Rolen to foul out on his 115th pitch of the game. The Reds hurt themselves in the eighth. Brandon Phillips was on third when Rolen hit a grounder to third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Phillips couldn't get back in time and was tagged out. The Reds went on to score one run in the inning, on Ryan Ludwick's RBI single off Ryan Mattheus, but left the bases loaded again when Cozart struck out. NOTES: Washington's Jordan Zimmerman (1-3) starts Saturday's game against Mat Latos (2-2), who has won his last two decisions. ... Nationals and former Reds manager Davey Johnson called Reds shortstop Barry Larkin a complete player. "I've managed a lot of great ones," Johnson said. "The way he played, he was arguably the best one I've managed." Larkin goes into the Hall of Fame this summer. ... Rick Ankiel was out on a weird play in the fifth. His grounder hit first base and popped high in the air. Reds 1B Joey Votto caught it barehanded and threw to Alfredo Simon covering the base.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays, routinely using relievers as starters to deal with a rash of injuries, are pitching their way to victories.
The Rays (37-40) go into a two-game interleague series against the Washington Nationals with the momentum of a three-game sweep of the American League East-leading Yankees. New York hadn't lost three games in a row at any point all season, but the Rays pulled it off, capped with a 7-6 win in 12 innings on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
"That's the best team in the league right now, them and the Astros ... I think coming home from that we had confidence and it all carried over into that series," said Rays rookie first baseman Jake Bauers, who won the game in the 12th inning.
Since beginning their experimental use of relievers as "openers" to start games, the Rays have a 3.07 ERA, and entering Sunday's game, that edged the Yankees for the best ERA in baseball since May 19. They've won five of seven games to again challenge .500, and Sunday's walkoff home run by Bauers was their second this season, after totaling one in three seasons from 2015 to 2017.
The Nationals (41-35) had gone 3-9 in their last 12 games before Sunday night's rain-delayed game against the Phillies, dropping into third place in the National League East. They'll send out Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has no wins in his last four starts and his ERA has risen from a sterling 2.10 to 3.08.
Gonzalez lasted only four innings in his last outing, giving up five hits and two runs against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. For his career against the Rays, he's 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA, though he's only faced Tampa Bay once since 2012. That was a rough 2015 start at Tropicana Field, lasting 3 1/3 innings and giving up five earned runs on eight hits, walking more batters than he struck out. For his career at Tropicana, he has an 11.25 ERA.
The Rays will have an actual starter on the mound in Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48), who is in line for an All-Star appearance after the first three months of his season. He has just one loss in his last seven starts, and while he has never faced the Nationals, he has generally fared well in interleague play, going 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA in eight career starts.
Tampa Bay, hoping to build on its current momentum, has a tough week ahead, with two games against Washington, then another four against Houston to close out the homestand.
Washington goes from St. Petersburg to a weekend four-game series at the Philadelphia Phillies before returning home for a week.
The Rays got a head start with a Sunday afternoon game and the Nationals saw their prime-time game delayed by rain, keeping them on the field beyond midnight and still needing to fly to Florida for the two-game stopover.
MORE NATS NEWS:
WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.
Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.
Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.
After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.
Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.
The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.
Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.
Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.
Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.
The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.
Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.
Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.
Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.
Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.
Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.