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With a seven-game losing streak now behind them, the Cincinnati Reds try to get their slumping offense going when they host the Washington Nationals on Sunday in the rubber match of a three-game series. The Reds, playing without injured Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips in the middle of the lineup, have totaled 14 runs in eight games since the All-Star break after a 1-0 victory Saturday. The Nationals are 15-7 in their last 22 contests to take over first place in the National League East.
Washington’s Denard Span has been a big part of its success, collecting nine hits in his last three games and batting .380 in July. Mat Latos tries to cool down Span and the Nationals while Doug Fister attempts to become Washington’s second 10-game winner in just his 14th start. Todd Frazier, who leads Cincinnati in homers (20) and RBIs (54), is among those struggling with one hit in his last five games.
TV: 1:10 p.m. ET; MASN (Washington), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Doug Fister (9-2, 2.92 ERA) vs. Reds RH Mat Latos (2-2, 3.15)
Fister has won four consecutive decisions and allowed only 10 runs total over his last five outings. The 30-year-old California native has permitted two or fewer runs in nine of 13 starts, including Monday when he yielded two over 5 2/3 innings to beat Colorado. Fister, who has walked only 10 in 83 1/3 innings, held the Reds to two runs over seven frames to earn the win on May 20.
Latos is winless in his last two starts while surrendering nine runs (seven earned) in 12 innings. The 26-year-old gave up two or fewer runs in four of his first five outings after returning from elbow surgery and opponents are batting .194 against him this season. Adam LaRoche is 4-for-13 with a homer versus Latos, who is 3-1 with a 2.34 ERA in six career starts against the Nationals.
1. Washington RHP Rafael Soriano boasts 199 career saves and Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman is one away from 100.
2. The Nationals are at the top of the NL and third in the majors with a plus-73 run differential.
3. Cincinnati SS Zack Cozart is in a 0-for-20 slump, going hitless in six at-bats during the series.
PREDICTION: Nationals 4, Reds 2