WASHINGTON -- Everything, it seems, is going right for Bronson Arroyo
and the Cincinnati Reds
these days. And all is amiss for the Washington Nationals
Arroyo threw eight innings of one-hit ball, and Cincinnati jumped out to an early lead just as they did all series in a 5-0 victory over Washington on Wednesday that completed a three-game sweep.
Arroyo improved to 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA in five starts, allowing only Ryan Zimmerman's
single to right-center with two outs in the fourth.
The right-hander left after 119 pitches -- "I was running out of juice," he said -- and Kent Mercker
and David Weathers
combined for a hitless ninth.
"I went out there today and was warming up in the 'pen, and I knew I had good stuff," Arroyo said. "When you've got good stuff, especially playing in a park like this, that's so big, you can be really aggressive and kind of go after these guys."
He struck out eight and walked two in his latest impressive outing since a spring training trade from the Red Sox. Arroyo was headed to Boston's bullpen when he was dealt for outfielder Wily Mo Pena.
"It's a little different vibe," Arroyo said. "Being in Boston, you're expected to win every night. Here, they're picking us to run neck-and-neck with the Pirates in last place."
Thanks to Arroyo and the majors' highest-scoring offense, the Reds are 15-7, including four consecutive victories to cap a 6-1 road trip. They scored a total of seven first-inning runs in the opening two games at Washington, and went up 4-0 by the fourth on Wednesday off Ramon Ortiz
got things going with an upper-deck homer in the third inning, his third homer in 25 at-bats. The Reds tacked on three the next inning, when they batted around and were helped by poor fielding by the Nationals.
And what about those Nationals? The team that was the feel-good story for much of 2005, leading the NL East into July in its first season in Washington, dropped to 7-14 with a fourth straight loss.
Emblematic of their recent problems, the Nationals had more errors in one inning (two in the fourth) than hits in the entire game.
"You can't keep going like this and saying, 'Well, it's early. It's going to come around.' We need to get results," manager Frank Robinson said, "and we need to get them starting tomorrow."
That won't necessarily be easy, given that the Nationals play Thursday at St. Louis, and their starter will be Mike O'Connor, a left-hander making his major league debut. On three days' rest, to boot.
There's more: John Patterson
, Washington's top starter so far, is being skipped in the rotation in St. Louis because of a strained right forearm, and he said Wednesday he's not sure when he'll be able to pitch next.
And then, of course, there's still the pending question of who will buy the Nationals. A local TV station report about which of eight bidders will get the team -- a report categorically denied by Major League Baseball -- made the rounds in the clubhouse.
Washington fell to 1-7 at home this season, and once again played before a sparse crowd at 46,382-capacity RFK Stadium. The announced attendance was 19,380, meaning each of the past four games drew thinner crowds than the smallest of 2005.
"We need to start performing the way this team is capable of and what we expect -- and that's pitching, defense and hitting," Robinson said. "Until we do that, we're going to get beat."
On Wednesday, Arroyo did have the benefit of not having to face two of Washington's best hitters, Jose Vidro
and Jose Guillen
, who didn't start. Still, Arroyo has established himself as the ace of a staff that doesn't have another member of the rotation with an ERA under 4.50.
"It should take a lot of pressure off the other guys," Reds manager Jerry Narron said. "The other thing is, just watching him pitch, how he throws strikes, how he commands the baseball, I think that has got to wear off on guys."