WASHINGTON – The Washington Nationals acquired center fielder Denard Span for his ability to hit leadoff and play defense.
Saturday against Cincinnati, it was his fielding that stole the show.
Span made pair of impressive catches to halt Reds rallies, Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer and scored twice, and Dan Haren had his best start of the young season as the Nationals beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-3.
Span and Jayson Werth each had two hits for Washington, which has won the first three games of the four-game set. Harper’s two RBIs gave him 18, a Nationals record for April.
“(We were) two hits away, had it not been for Span, from tying that game up or even going ahead,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “Those were two heck of a plays. Very rarely do you see two Web Gems in one game.”
Trailing 6-2 in the seventh, the Reds got a two-out RBI single from pinch-hitter Todd Frazier off Tyler Clippard to make it 6-3. Shin-Soo Choo then walked to load the bases and Jack Cozart hit a laser to left-center, but Span’s running catch ended the threat.
“I didn’t think he had a chance to outrun that ball. He outran it. When (Cozart) hit it, I thought ‘that’s going to score three,”’ Washington manager Davey Johnson said.
In the sixth, after Choo homered to lead off and Cozart singled, Span thwarted the rally when he raced to the wall in left-center and made a leaping catch to take at least an extra-base hit away from Joey Votto.
“I got a great jump on both of those balls,” Span said. “On Votto, I was already playing deep, respecting his power. I’m not sure if the ball would have went over, but I was prepared to bring it back if it did go out.”
Haren (2-3) didn’t quite match Jordan Zimmermann’s one-hitter and Gio Gonzalez’s impressive eight innings of one-hit ball the previous two games, but he was sharp enough. Haren allowed two runs and six hits over six innings.
Philadelphia 9, N.Y. Mets 4: Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. hit consecutive home runs to break open a close game and the Phillies beat the Mets, sending Jonathan Pettibone to his first major league win.
Ryan Howard knocked in two runs, Jimmy Rollins scored twice and Michael Young had three hits – two that never left the infield – for the second straight day. Pettibone (1-0) pitched his way out of an important jam to help Philadelphia improve to 4-1 against the Mets after losing the season series last year.
Chicago Cubs 3, Miami 2: David DeJesus hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning to help lift the Chicago Cubs to a 3-2 win over the struggling Miami Marlins.
Travis Wood (2-1) pitched six innings allowing two runs and struck out five for Chicago, which has won four of five.
Three relievers held the lead to get to Kevin Gregg, who pitched a perfect ninth for his third save.
Baltimore 7, Oakland 3: Nick Markakis and Adam Jones hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning, Chris Tillman pitched six innings for his first win of the season and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3.
Nate McLouth also homered for Baltimore, which is 3-0 on its 11-game road trip and in position for its first four-game sweep in Oakland since 1987.
N.Y. Yankees 5, Toronto 4: Travis Hafner hit a three-run homer, then lumbered around the bases for a go-ahead triple in the seventh inning that sent CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees over the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4.
Vernon Wells delivered another key hit against his former team as the Yankees beat Toronto for the third straight day. With Mariano Rivera getting a day off to rest, Joba Chamberlain worked around a pair of one-out singles in the ninth for his first save since 2010.