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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, May 21st (All times Eastern)

Cincinnati Reds (20-24) at Washington Nationals (24-21), 4:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Cincinnati - Alfredo Simon (5-2, 2.45) Washington - Tanner Roark (3-1, 3.65)

(SportsNetwork.com) - Cincinnati hurler Alfredo Simon will put his perfect road record on the line Wednesday afternoon when the Reds battle the Washington Nationals in the rubber match of a three-game series.

Simon has won all four of his road starts this season while pitching to a 0.99 earned run average. He improved on that mark last time out on Friday, shutting out the Philadelphia Phillies over 7 2/3 innings in a 3-0 decision. He scattered five hits and a walk while striking out a season-high eight and improving to 5-2 with a 2.45 ERA overall.

The performance came just one outing after the 33-year-old righty was drilled for five runs and three homers over three innings of a loss to Colorado.

Simon is 1-1 with three saves and a 2.57 ERA in 10 previous encounters with Washington, all coming in relief.

Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark also is righting the ship after a rough outing and will try to win a second straight start today.

Roark was touched for seven runs over four innings of a loss to the Phillies on May 3, but has yielded just three runs in two starts since. The 27-year-old is coming off a 5-2 win over the New York Mets on Friday that improved his season record to 3-1 with a 3.65 ERA.

Roark hurled four scoreless innings prior to giving up two runs in his fifth and final inning. However, he had some room to work with as the Nats scored three runs for him in the first and added another two in the third.

"You go out there and pitch with confidence," Roark said of the early run support he received. "You know you got some run support behind you and it felt good."

Roark will face the Reds for the first time looking to pitch his club to a series victory following last night's 9-4 win.

Denard Span went 5-for-5 out of the leadoff spot, notching a pair of doubles, driving in two runs and scoring twice. Span was hitting .235 on May 14, but has 10 hits in five games since to up his average to .263.

"It sets up everything when you have your leadoff guy getting on base," said outfielder Jayson Werth, who drove in a run on Tuesday, said about Span. "When he's going good, he doesn't give an at-bat away. That sets up the rest of your lineup and makes it tough on the other team."

Doug Fister was tough on the Reds in his home debut, giving up two runs over seven innings to help Washington win for the fourth time in six games.

In his worst outing of the season, Johnny Cueto was tagged for eight runs -- six earned -- on six hits with six strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings to absorb his first loss since April 11 against Tampa Bay.

Billy Hamilton drove in two runs for the Reds, who committed four errors in losing for the third time in four games.

"We had our chances but we didn't get as many as we needed," said Hamilton. "Fister got in his groove and he had everything working tonight. He did a great job of mixing his pitches up."

The Nationals have won seven of their last 10 at home versus the Reds.

05/21 10:28:13 ET

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