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Nationals' bats struggle in 2-1 loss to Reds

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 21, 2014 at 8:56 pm •  Published: May 21, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Danny Espinosa raised his right hand and pointed at home plate umpire Alan Porter, protesting the called third strike that had just ended the game.

It was another frustrating day for a Washington Nationals offense that has been struggling for consistency without three key members of the lineup.

The Nationals lost 2-1 to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, just one day after battering ace Johnny Cueto for eight runs. Washington lost two of three in the series.

"Right now we're banged up, man," said Denard Span, who accounted for Washington only run when he homered off Alfredo Simon to lead off the first. "It's tough because I still feel like we're playing good baseball, even with our circumstances right now. Even the two games we lost this series, they were tough loses. We were in both of those games; we had opportunities to win both of those games."

Simon (6-2) settled down after a rough start and came back after a 61-minute rain delay, allowing one run over seven innings.

The Nationals — playing without Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche — finished a six-game homestand with a 3-3 mark.

Against Cincinnati, the Nationals erupted for nine runs in the middle game, but they managed just three over 15 innings off Mike Leake and a slew of relievers on Monday. They didn't score again Wednesday after Span's homer.

"No, it's not frustrating," manager Matt Williams said. "It's a product of who we're facing, too. The guy's a quality pitcher.

"Leake's a quality pitcher, too, and we beat a good one last night. Would you love to score nine every day? Sure. If you could do that you'd probably win a championship, but that's not the nature of the game."

Simon worked out of a jam in the second, then allowed only three more baserunners. He threw two innings after the storm that interrupted the game for just over an hour.

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