Fresh off a 23 scoreless-innings streak by their starters that ended in Friday's win, the Nationals, at 6-2, are off to their best eight-game start since moving to D.C. On Saturday, one of those new starters looks to continue that good fortune, as right-hander Edwin Jackson (0-0, 5.40 ERA) takes the mound against the Reds and righty Homer Bailey (0-1, 6.35).
Jackson is coming off a so-so 2012 debut against the Mets, in which he allowed three runs in five innings. Saturday marks Jackson's first home start as a National and just his second career start against Cincinnati. He would be thrilled with an outcome similar to his first start vs. the Reds, when he allowed two runs in seven innings and struck out eight while with St. Louis last September.
Jackson faces a Reds offense that, through the season's first eight games, hasn't been nearly as potent as in years past. After leading the National League in runs in 2010 and finishing second a year ago, the Reds entered Friday 12th among NL teams.
Of course, with chilly April weather in many cities, run production throughout baseball is nowhere near as high as it will be come June and July. Because of that, Reds manager Dusty Baker said he isn't concerned.
"Everybody went from being warm every day to being cold every day," Baker said of leaving Spring Training. "You know the hitters usually warm up when the weather warms up. A lot of guys are struggling. It's OK, we'll hit."
Cincinnati's offense also has been without its leadoff hitter, as second baseman Brandon Phillips has been out of the starting lineup since Monday after getting cramps in his left hamstring. Baker said Phillips -- who pinch-hit Friday -- could return to the lineup Saturday, but probably wouldn't bat at the top of the order.
"We'll see," Baker said Friday. "He was better yesterday than he was. I might have to bat him down in the order some, so he doesn't have to run as much until that leg gets back to 100 percent."
Reds: Bailey wants to be aggressive
Bailey is coming off a season debut in which he gave up three first-inning, two-out home runs. He admitted afterward to getting "passive" after recording the second out, and said he simply needs to focus.
"I didn't stay aggressive," Bailey said. "Once you open that can, it's kind of hard to shut sometimes. The wind blowing out like that, small park -- it's going to happen. After the first, I just tried to get as deep into the game as I could."
Joey Votto's next home run will be his 117th as a first baseman, tying him with Sean Casey for the fourth most among Reds first basemen.
Nationals: Scoreless streak snapped
A sacrifice fly by Reds starter Bronson Arroyo off Jordan Zimmermann in Friday's fifth inning snapped a scoreless-innings streak by Nationals starters. Gio Gonzalez (seven), Stephen Strasburg (six), Ross Detwiler (five) and Edwin Jackson (one) also contributed to the 23-inning streak, which was one inning shy of tying the longest in franchise history. John Patterson, Hector Carrasco, Esteban Loaiza and Livan Hernandez combined to work 24 consecutive scoreless innings from Sept. 16-20, 2005.
The Reds are three victories shy of 10,000 franchise wins, which would make them the sixth Major League team to reach the 10,000-win plateau, joining the Giants, Cubs, Dodges, Cardinals and Braves.
With Friday's win, the Expos/Nationals franchise now has 200 wins against the Reds.
Washington's Brett Carroll is 3-for-3 with a homer and double in his career against Bailey.