WASHINGTON (AP) — Johnny Cueto was having a season of such historic proportions that it was totally unrealistic to expect him to keep up the pace.
Still, it was jarring to see him pestered by a disruptive leadoff hitter, to see him plunk two batters in the same inning, to see him yield hit after hit as if he were an ordinary pitcher having a bad day.
Cueto returned to mortality Tuesday night when the Reds lost 9-4 to the Washington Nationals.
"They played really well. And you know what? I'm human. I'm human," Cueto said through an interpreter. "I just got to keep my head up and keep working. That's all I got to do."
The Reds' ace allowed more than two runs, more than five hits and failed to pitch at least seven innings — all for the first time this season.
His final line: 5 1-3 innings, six hits, eight runs (six earned), six strikeouts. He hit the two batters in the seven-run sixth, when the Nationals blew the game open.
It was Cueto's shortest start since Sept. 16, 2013, and his most runs allowed since Sept. 22, 2010. His ERA rose from 1.25 to 1.86.
"He wasn't just the groundball machine, strikeout machine that he's been to this point," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "It's just the law of averages caught up with us today."
Denard Span went 5 for 5 with two runs, two doubles, two RBIs and a stolen base for the Nationals, and he used his speed to get the Reds to throw a couple of balls away. Cincinnati committed four errors — twice as many as in any previous game this season.
The Reds have committed six errors thus far in a two-game series. They had only 13 all season before arriving in D.C.
"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 defensively at some point as well."