The Reds have been the best defensive team in the Major Leagues this year. But they haven't looked like that in the first two games of this series vs. the Nationals.
Cincinnati made two errors Monday but escaped with a 4-3 win in 15 innings. On Tuesday, the Reds made four errors, three of which led to runs and hurt them as Washington rolled to a 9-4 victory against starter Johnny Cueto, who gave up eight runs (six earned) in 5 1/3 innings.
The Reds will look to get back on track in the field in Wednesday's matinee rubber match against the Nationals.
Reds manager Bryan Price had moved some players to different spots on Tuesday, but he said he wasn't worried about the defensive problems and that he hadn't lost any confidence in his team. Cincinnati had committed only 15 errors before Tuesday and had a .991 fielding percentage heading into that game.
"You're not going to go through the entire season with 12 errors," Price said. "This is a special defensive club, outstanding. Just like, inevitably, Johnny was going to have a game where he wasn't going to have his best result, it was going to happen at some point as well [on defense]. I'm not concerned."
Alfredo Simon will toe the rubber for the Reds looking to build upon an impressive outing his last time out, when he blanked the Phillies over 7 2/3 innings while striking out eight. Fellow right-hander Tanner Roark will go for the Nats and is looking to win his second straight start.
Roark worked hard during the offseason of 2012 and had his best season in '13. He went a combined 16-4 with a 2.60 ERA for Triple-A Syracuse and Washington. That made Roark a candidate for the rotation this year, and he was on the Opening Day roster after teammate Doug Fister suffered a strained lat before the start of the regular season.
Now, Roark is an integral part of the rotation.
"He has a terrific understanding of who he is and what he needs to do to be successful," assistant general manager and vice president of player development Doug Harris said. "That was probably the biggest thing that got him over the hump. He finally began to trust who he was and that he was capable of getting people out with his stuff."
Reds: Bruce nearing return
Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, on the disabled list since May 6 with left knee issues, felt good about his workout before Tuesday's game.
"It felt good, it felt normal," said Bruce, who hit off of rehabbing starter Mat Latos. "There's still some swelling there and the range of motion isn't perfect, but I knew that. Structurally, it's great."
Bruce also ran the bases, shagged fly balls and even slid into third base, all requirements needed to be activated. He's eligible to come off the DL on Wednesday, but the club is being cautious with the injury.
"I don't want to put dates on it," Bruce said of his return. "Getting close, really close. We'll see [how I] bounce back from this. Today was the most involved day that I've had so far. I ran the bases full speed, hit off Mat Latos. And if I bounce back from this, we're heading in the right direction pretty fast."
Nationals: Zimmerman's thumb healing slowly
Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman's fractured right thumb is healing slowly, according to an X-ray taken Monday. He will see an occupational therapist to get a splint on the thumb that will allow him to begin exercising his right arm.
"It's not really throwing. It puts his thumb in a position where he can start working his arm, which is good," manager Matt Williams said. "It's what he needs to do. [The thumb] is not fully healed, so [the doctors] are cautious."
Williams said he would like the healing to go faster, but that "everybody heals differently."
"It was an interesting fracture. It wasn't just a crack straight across," Williams said. "It was kind of like a Y. So there are multiple things that have to heal there. Yeah, we would like it to go faster, but it is what it is."
• Nats outfielder Denard Span tied a career high with five hits in Tuesday's 9-4 win over the Reds.
• Cincinnati leads the Major Leagues with 12 one-run losses. The Reds lost 22 one-run games all of last season.
• Joey Votto has missed the past five games with a quad strain, in which time the Reds have gone 2-3. Cincinnati went 32-16 when Votto sat out due to injury in 2012.
• With their 9-4 win Tuesday night, the Nats are 20-1 when scoring at least four runs.