WASHINGTON (AP) — Denard Span will take the five hits, of course, especially with three of them coming off Johnny Cueto.
He'll take greater satisfaction in the way he was able to create havoc the way a leadoff hitter should, using his speed to get the Cincinnati Reds to commit a pair of errors in the Washington Nationals' 9-4 win Tuesday night.
"I got more gratification just disrupting them and getting them to throw the ball away," Span said. "For me that's how I have to take over a game."
And take over, he did. He finished 5 for 5 with two runs, two doubles, two RBIs and a stolen base as he and the Nationals accomplished a first for 2014: They made Cueto (4-3) look mortal.
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 also hit two batters in the same inning — the seven-run sixth when the Nationals blew the game open.
"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."
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 helped by a Reds defense that committed four errors — twice as many as in any previous game this season.
"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."
Doug Fister (1-1), making his home Nationals debut, allowed two runs and six hits over seven innings with good movement on his fastball. He had a streak of 12 retired batters in a row, and he worked out of a jam in the sixth with the help of a diving stop by third baseman Anthony Rendon and a tiptoe stretch by first baseman Tyler Moore that turned Rendon's throw into the third out.
Above all, Span was the unstoppable agitator, and it paid off in the Reds' calamitous third and sixth innings.
Fister led off the third by reaching on an error when first baseman Todd Frazier couldn't backhand a grounder. Span then tried to bunt his way on and did even better, laying one down that prompted a wide throw from third baseman Ramon Santiago. Fister scored all the way from first, and Span ended up on third and scored on Rendon's sacrifice fly to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead.