CINCINNATI (AP) — With the bases loaded and nobody out in the ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon was clinging to a one-run lead.
He was still confident he could slam the door.
Washington’s closer was right. He got three consecutive outs to keep the potential tying run at third and preserve the Nationals’ 10-9 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
“We always talk about staying in the moment,” Papelbon said. “My motto is, ‘Bend but don’t break.’ I couldn’t get a feel for my slider early, but as the inning progressed, I got better feel for it.”
Daniel Murphy homered and drove in three runs and Wilson Ramos also went deep for the Nationals, who overcame an early five-run deficit and then nearly squandered a five-run cushion themselves.
Murphy, Ramos and Bryce Harper each had three hits to help Washington salvage the finale of a three-game series, snapping the club’s five-game losing streak in Cincinnati over the last two seasons.
Papelbon entered in the ninth to protect a 10-8 lead and immediately got in trouble. Tyler Holt singled, Joey Votto walked and Brandon Phillips hit an RBI double.
Jay Bruce was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out, but the Reds were unable to tie the game. Adam Duvall popped up, pinch-hitter Zack Cozart struck out and Papelbon secured his 15th save in 17 tries when Ivan De Jesus Jr. flied out to deep left-center.
Bruce hit a three-run homer in the seventh for the last-place Reds, who had won four in a row.
Washington left-hander Sammy Solis (1-1) struck out a career-high six in three innings of relief.
“Solis was awesome,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. “He did an awesome job. He saved our bullpen and allowed me to mix and match at the end.”
The teams took turns sending 10 batters to the plate in five-run innings. Cincinnati scored five in the second, three when DeJesus hit a two-run double to left field that was bobbled by Ben Revere as it bounced off the wall, allowing a third run to score on the error.
The Nationals matched their season high for runs allowed in an inning. They also gave up five in the third inning on May 23 against the Mets.
Washington starter Tanner Roark lasted only three innings, the shortest of his 60 career starts.
Murphy, the NL player of the month in May, hit a two-run shot and Ramos followed with his homer in Washington’s five-run fourth, the Nationals’ sixth set of back-to-back homers this season.
Pinch-hitter Stephen Drew had an RBI single and Revere, who was 0 for 17 over the first five games of Washington’s road trip, tied the game with a single to right.
“We stacked some good at-bats on top of each other,” Murphy said. “We grinded out some at-bats.”
Cincinnati’s Jon Moscot lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving him a total of 5 2/3 innings pitched over his last two starts.
“I have to do a better job at limiting the damage,” Moscot said. “I looked at the pitches they hit out. They weren’t exactly where I wanted them. I didn’t get the ball in far enough on Murphy. He’s one of the hottest hitters in the league.”
The score was tied 5-all in the fifth when the Nationals loaded the bases with nobody out against Daniel Wright (0-2). Anthony Rendon hit a potential double-play ball to third baseman Eugenio Suarez, but catcher Tucker Barnhart couldn’t handle Suarez’s throw, allowing two runs to score on Barnhart’s error.
Clint Robinson’s sacrifice fly made it 8-5. Murphy and Ramos added RBI singles in the sixth.
After not allowing any sets of successive home runs all season, the Reds have given up two in the last four games.
BRYCE BREAKS OUT
Harper, last season’s unanimous NL MVP, had his first multihit game since May 21 at Miami and his first three-hit game since April 15 at Philadelphia.
LEFT ON LEFT
Bruce’s homer off Felipe Rivero was his 57th off a left-handed pitcher since 2010, second in the majors behind Albert Pujols’ 61.
Nationals: LF Jayson Werth, who was 4 for 21 over the first five games of the road trip, was given a day off.
Reds: RHP JC Ramirez exited two outs into the sixth inning with a bruised right quadriceps after being struck by Ramos’ single.
Nationals: Washington is off Monday before opening a three-game road series against the White Sox. RHP Joe Ross (5-4) is scheduled to make his first career start against Chicago.
Reds: After getting Monday off, the Reds start a three-game home series against St. Louis, with LHP John Lamb (1-3) seeking his second straight win.