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Reds rally, but fall in 11th to Nationals

Baseballs are flying out of Great American Ball Park at an alarming rate this weekend. Reds fans were so concerned about a possible baseball shortage, they threw some home run balls hit by the Nationals back onto the field Saturday — at least that’s how a 5-year-old might have seen it.

One day after the Reds hit six homers in a 15-0 victory, they watched the Nationals nearly equal them. Washington blasted five home runs, including two in the 11th inning off J.J. Hoover, in evening the series with a 7-6 victory.

The Reds rallied from a 5-1 deficit with two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth. They nearly fought back one more time in the 11th, only to see Jay Bruce strike out with the tying run on second.

The Reds collected 13 hits one day after getting 19, but they stranded 11 runners.

“We had chances to win that game seven times,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve just got to come up with some clutch hits. Last night, we hit the ball out of the park, and tonight they hit it out of the park. Turnabout is fair play.”

Shin-Soo Choo had the Reds’ only home run, his third of the season. Cincinnati (3-2) has hit 10 home runs in the last three games.

The hottest bat belongs to third baseman Todd Frazier, who was 3-for-5 with two RBIs. He raised his season average to .500 (11-for-22) and has eight RBIs.

“I just feel good at the plate, no matter what the situation is,” he said. “You don’t want this feeling to ever leave. I just feel loose. If you feel loose at the plate, it doesn’t matter what’s coming. The swing you put on is going to be your ‘A’ swing every time.”

Bryce Harper gave the Nationals (4-1) a 2-0 lead in the third with a two-run home run, his third of the season, off Reds starter Mike Leake. Wilson Ramos hit a two-run home run in the sixth to give Washington a 4-1 lead. Jason Werth homered in the seventh, and it was 5-1.

The Reds missed some golden opportunities in the early innings. Leake and Choo opened the third with singles, but Joey Votto hit into a double play with runners at first and third to end the inning.

In the fifth, Choo was hit by a pitch for the fourth time this week to open the inning, and then Chris Heisey singled to left. But Votto flew out to left, and Brandon Phillips hit into a double play.

The Reds tied the game in the ninth when Votto scored on a wild pitch, but Ian Desmond and Ramos homered in the 11th.

“Resiliency is our middle name,” Baker said. “That’s just how we are. You just hate to come all the way back and tie it up and lose, especially when you have a chance to go ahead and win it. Invariably, when you don’t go ahead and you have chances, you give them another chance.”

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