CINCINNATI -- Patrick Corbin pitched six effective innings, Josh Bell had a two-run double and catcher Kelbert Ruiz picked Nick Senzel off first base to end the game as the Washington Nationals beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-4 on Sunday.
Ruiz threw behind Senzel to Bell. His diving tag and Senzel's dive back to first kicked up a cloud of dirt, but first base umpire Andy Fletcher made the call that survived a Reds challenge and video review.
“That was a weird play — lot of dirt,” Bell said with a grin. “That was a fun way to end it.”
“I saw him take a big lead,” Ruiz said through an interpreter. “Myself and (Bell) just looked at each other and put the play on.”
Nationals manager Dave Martinez called it an “an unbelievably heads-up play.”
Senzel believed Fletcher got the call wrong and blamed himself.
"It should never happen, but that was a design play called. They made a good play, but it should have never happened. ... I was safe," Senzel said. “He never tagged me.”
Reds manager David Bell said players “have to be aware of a lot” in that situation and that it does happen, but “it's no excuse.”
Earlier in the game, Maikel Franco homered for the first time since May 14 and Washington capitalized on two fourth-inning Cincinnati errors.
The three-game losing streak is the Reds’ longest since dropping nine straight in late April and early May. Washington’s three straight wins follow a four-game losing streak.
“There is no easy way to lose when they’re doing everything they can to win games," Bell said. “The appearance is that it comes down to one play. That’s not the case at all. There’s a lot of things that went into what happened this weekend.”
Corbin (2-8) overcame nine Cincinnati hits and three first-inning runs in the first to turn in five scoreless innings. Corbin, who didn’t walk anybody and struck out five, has allowed 21 hits in 10 1/3 innings over his last two starts.
“He did a great job battling back from giving up three runs,” Martinez said, adding it was crucial for Corbin to go six. “We needed that inning. Our bullpen's beat up. He gave us what we needed.”
Victor Arano and Erasmo Ramirez combined to pitch the seventh and eighth before Stephen Cishek overcame a walk and Senzel’s infield hit for his first save since 2019, when he was with the Cubs.
Luis Castillo (2-3) made his his sixth start and allowed a season-high four walks over 6 1/3 innings while slipping to 0-5 in six career starts against the Nationals. Castillo gave up six hits and five runs, three earned, with six strikeouts.
Bell doubled into right field corner to drive in César Hernández and Lane Thomas with two outs in the first inning. The Reds responded with three straight hits in the bottom of the inning, including back-to-back doubles from Joey Votto and Tyler Stephenson.
Errors by shortstop Kyle Farmer and right fielder Aristides Aquino fueled Washington’s fourth-inning, two-run rally. Luis García drove in Yadiel Hernandez with the first run, and Franco scored as César Hernández beat out a potential double-play grounder to Votto at first base.
Franco went deep to left in the sixth for his fourth homer of the season.
Castillo threw 29 pitches and Corbin added 26 in a 33-minute, five-run first inning. Both shook it off to sail through the second inning with a combined 17 pitches.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (thoracic outlet syndrome) threw a bullpen session Sunday and will travel with the team to Miami, where a decision could be made on when he returns, Martinez said. Strasburg has been out since early April. … Arano walked off the field with an apparent leg injury after misplaying a grounder and falling to the ground in the eighth inning. Arano was getting an MRI, Martinez said.
Reds: RHP Vladimir Gutierrez (right forearm soreness) was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to Saturday, and recalled RHP Jared Solomon.
Nationals: Tuesday’s starting pitcher at Miami still is to be determined.
Reds: RHP Hunter Greene (2-7), the scheduled starter on Monday against the Diamondbacks, allowed six hits and four runs with eight strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings during his last start on Wednesday at Boston.
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