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CIN@WSH: Stubbs' single opens up the scoring

WASHINGTON -- Reds hitting has been about as down as it can possibly get lately, and there appeared no way that the Nationals' Edwin Jackson was going to let them get back up on Saturday.

Jackson did give up two hits and a run in the second inning. It would be the only hits and run that the Reds could scrape together all afternoon as the Washington starter went the distance to send Cincinnati to a 4-1 loss.

"When a guy is on, you can come up with all the excuses or reasons, but when a guy is on, a guy is on," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.

Losers of five out of the last six games and the first three of this series, Cincinnati (3-6) found the worst possible time to run into a hot team. Washington has won five in a row to get off to a 7-2 start.

In the first three games of the series, the Reds have scored a combined four runs with a total of 12 hits. Their team average for the season is down to .191.

The Reds got on the scoreboard first, ending a scoreless streak of 10 innings in the top of the second. Miguel Cairo hit a one-out double to left field. After Chris Heisey was hit by a pitch, Drew Stubbs slashed a single to left field that scored Cairo, who subsequently exited the game with a strained left hamstring.

The rally faded when Devin Mesoraco grounded into an inning-ending double play at third base. Mesoraco was the first of 16 straight batters Jackson retired before Heisey drew a walk to lead off the eighth.

"[Catcher Jesus] Flores and I were able to get into the groove early and throughout the game," Jackson said. "They were aggressive. I didn't have a lot of strikeouts until later on in the game. I'm fine with that as long as I'm getting outs and pitching to contact."

Following the Heisey walk, Jackson struck out the side, as he retired 22 of his last 23 batters.

"We're going to hit," Baker said. "I was told a long time ago that the worst thing you can face is a relaxed pitcher. When you're not scoring runs, they will be relaxed and make all the pitches. That's what he did today."

Jackson threw only 92 pitches in the game, needing only seven pitches to retire the side in the top of the ninth for the complete game, finishing with nine strikeouts.

"Usually he has a wild period in there some place, but he didn't have that at all today," Baker said. "I even asked the umpire one time, 'Are we that bad or is he that good?' He said 'Hey, he was that good.' He said everything was moving. He was sharp. Everything looked like a fastball, and then it would be a breaking ball in the dirt. He made us look badly today."

Reds starter Homer Bailey had a lot on his plate going into the game. His bullpen was gassed from back-to-back extra-inning games preceded by back-to-back five-inning starts from the rotation. Mix that issue with a lack of hitting, and the Reds needed Bailey to be near perfect.

The early going was far from it as Bailey had all four of his walks through three innings while accumulating 60 pitches. Following a pair of Bailey walks in the second inning, Flores hit an RBI single to left field that made it a 1-1 game.

With one out in the Washington third, Danny Espinosa walked and advanced on Ryan Zimmerman's infield single to diving shortstop Zack Cozart. Adam LaRoche followed with a two-run double to the wall in right-center field to make it a 3-1 game.

"When you're not scoring runs, 3-1 looks like 7-1," Baker said.

"It was pretty safe to say that the walks hurt us," said Bailey, who is 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA through two starts. "There were a couple of walks where they took some really good pitches. It enabled them to get on. Their team is playing really well. They're hot right now. Their pitchers are throwing outstanding games. When you're playing like that, things are going to go your way."

It seemed as if the Reds might have to ride Bailey through a long day, but he settled down and gave up no more runs. He finished with 110 pitches over six innings, giving up three runs and seven hits with three strikeouts.

Sam LeCure picked up the final two innings and gave up three hits, including Jayson Werth's RBI double for a three-run deficit.

As for the lack of offensive support that has plagued him and his fellow pitchers, Bailey was philosophical.

"We have good hitters, and it's going to come around," Bailey said. "I think I can speak for everybody on the pitching staff that there's going to be those times when we're not pitching well and our hitting is going to pick us up. We understand the game, and that's how it goes."

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