WASHINGTON (AP) Brett Kennedy won his first major league appearance in five years, Elly De La Cruz went 4 for 5 with hits from both sides of the plate and the Cincinnati Reds beat the Washington Nationals 8-4 on Tuesday.
Kennedy struck out three and allowed four runs and five hits in five-plus innings, only getting into trouble late in his 86-pitch outing.
“Brett Kennedy, what he did for us today, that was outstanding,” manager David Bell said. “That was a win. That was a winning start. He did everything right.”
De La Cruz had three singles batting right-handed and one left-handed. The switch-hitting rookie sensation was robbed of his first career five-hit game by Nationals center fielder Derek Hill's diving catch on a line drive in the eighth.
“It can be a lot of maintenance for a switch-hitter - it’s a lot to think about,” Bell said. “But I know he’s really been trying to get locked in right-handed, and today was a big day for him to get involved.”
Jonathan India hit two home runs, Nick Senzel had a three-run shot and the Reds stole six bases. They've won three in a row and six of their past seven.
This one had special meaning for Kennedy, a 28-year-old who has bounced around the minors since last being in the majors with San Diego in 2018. He began this season as the opening day starter for the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League.
“There was a lot of times I thought I might be out of the game,” Kennedy said Monday. “It feels good for me and my wife and my family and people that believed in me: being able to get back here after stopping at those different places.”
Since his most recent major league game Sept. 7, 2018, Kennedy pitched in an Arizona rookie league and for teams in El Paso, Worcester and Portland. He joined the Reds organization in Louisville in May and got the call earlier this week to start on the Fourth of July.
“It means a lot more this time than the first time,” Kennedy said. “But I think everything happens for a reason, and I feel like everything I had to do made me better and made me ready for where I am now.”
Wearing red, white and blue “USA” socks and given plenty of offensive support, Kennedy fared better Tuesday than Washington starter Patrick Corbin, who allowed six earned runs and 10 hits with three walks in five innings.
Some of that was Corbin (5-10) in the middle of an up-and-down year and some the heart of the Reds order. Cincinnati's 3-4-5 hitters India, De La Cruz and Spencer Steer combined to go 7 for 8 against him.
“Today it was everyone," India said. ”The lineup was clicking. It was an early game. It’s funny that we did an 11 a.m. game. But we came out and did what we had to win, and that was a fun game.”
The Nationals threatened in the sixth, having the go-ahead run at the plate and the bases loaded before Fernando Cruz got two strikeouts and a deep foul fly ball to escape trouble. Lucas Sims got out of one final jam in the ninth for the save.
"Just a rough day," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “The lack of hitting with guys on base. We struck out bases loaded twice, and then we just struck out again with men on first and second. We’ve got to move the baseball.”
The Reds turn to RHP Graham Ashcraft (3-6, 6.66 ERA) in the third game of the series. First-time All-Star RHP Josiah Gray (6-6, 3.30) starts for the Nationals.
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