WASHINGTON — Denard Span was at his disruptive best, getting three hits off the major's top pitcher and forcing a pair of throwing errors Tuesday night to lead the Washington Nationals to a 9-4 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Span finished 5 for 5 with two runs, two doubles, two RBIs and a stolen base as the Nationals accomplished a first for 2014: They made Johnny 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.
The final line for Cueto: 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.
The Reds, the best fielding team in the majors, finished with four errors — twice as many as in any previous game this season.
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.
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 started to pay off in the Reds' calamitous third inning.
Fister led off 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 the first, and Span ended up on third and scored on Rendon's sacrifice fly to give the Nationals a 2-1 lead.
Span, hitting only .239 entering the game, led off the sixth inning with a single, then stole second and went to third when catcher Brayan Pena's throw went into center field. Span scored on Jayson Werth's RBI single and eventually came around to bat again in the inning, bringing home two more runs with a double off reliever Sean Marshall.
NOTES: Span's five hits tied a career high. ... The Reds have committed six errors thus far in two-game series — they had only 13 all season before arriving in D.C. ... Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto missed his fifth straight game with a strained left quadriceps. Manager Bryan Price said he hopes Votto will return when the Reds open a homestand Friday. "We just remain optimistic that Joey's going to be ready to play when we get back." ... Cincinnati RHP Mat Latos (left knee, right elbow) threw the equivalent of two innings in a simulated game and could be slotted for a minor league rehab start Sunday. ... Reds OF Jay Bruce (left knee) is eligible to return from the disabled list Wednesday. ... Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman (right thumb fracture) saw an occupational therapist to get a splint and that will allow him to start throwing the ball. There's still no timetable for his return. ... Reds' RHP Alfredo Simon faces RHP Tanner Roark in Wednesday's season finale.