WASHINGTON -- Since the Mets traded Matt Harvey to the Reds in May, Harvey has at times resembled the ace that started the 2013 All-Star Game and led the Mets to a National League pennant in '15.
At other times, though, Harvey has struggled to locate his pitches. The latter was on display during the Reds' 6-2 loss to the Nationals on Saturday night at Nationals Park, as Cincinnati split the doubleheader.
Harvey allowed five runs over four-plus innings, chased by a solo homer from Matt Adams in the fifth inning that provided Washington a comfortable lead.
"He was battling like crazy, and he's giving up one at a time," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "He wasn't sharp. The ball was up in that hitting area -- wasn't quite high enough to be tough to get to, and it wasn't low enough to get ground balls."
Due to injuries, Harvey threw 92 2/3 innings each of the past two seasons. This year, Harvey has thrown 104 innings. Harvey was 5-3 with a 3.64 ERA in his first 12 starts with the Reds. The right-hander has permitted 15 runs in 12 2/3 innings over his past three outings.
Harvey, who will be a free agent at the end of this season, said he feels fresh. The 29-year-old was a possible trade piece before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the Reds kept him to bolster their rotation. While Harvey has been solid for the majority of his Cincinnati stint, the rest of the Reds' rotation has been inconsistent. Riggleman believes Harvey is still improving from his '17 right shoulder injury and '16 surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome.
"He's the most adamant of all of our guys about, 'Are we going to stop this six-man rotation? I want innings. I feel great. I want innings,'" Riggleman said.
The Reds, who scored seven runs off 13 hits in the first game of the doubleheader, seemed to continue their offensive momentum when Jose Peraza sent the second pitch of the game over the center-field wall.
The Nationals, however, responded with a run in each of the next three innings. Anthony Rendon's double scored Juan Soto in the first, Wilmer Difo's single drove in Michael A. Taylor in the second and Adams' double plated Soto in the third.
Eugenio Suarez hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to pass Javier Baez for the most RBIs in the National League (85). Harvey still couldn't contain the Nationals, though. With two outs in the fourth, Harvey walked Soto, and Rendon drove him in with a double.
In the following inning, Adams belted a homer over the right-center-field wall. After the ball left the field, Harvey stood still and stared at the outfield for a moment before he was removed. Difo's RBI double later in the inning gave the Nationals a four-run edge they wouldn't relinquish.
"It's been an up and down roller coaster," Harvey said. "Kind of getting used to those mechanics of being healthy and feeling good and whatnot. It's been a couple years since I've consistently been healthy. It's obviously something I haven't done a great job of from start to start -- being more consistent. I think with more innings and more time, it's definitely going to come back."
VOTTO HIT BY PITCH
Both dugouts were warned in the eighth inning after batters on both sides were hit by pitches. First, Bryce Harper was hit below the knee by an errant pitch from right-hander Austin Brice in the sixth -- and Harper exited the following inning with what was described as a stinger. Then, Reds right-hander Jesus Reyes, making his Major League debut, hit Spencer Kieboom with an errant throw to begin the seventh inning.
So when the Reds' best player, Joey Votto, stepped up to the plate with two outs in the eighth inning and was drilled on the right leg by a 96.2-mph fastball from reliever Ryan Madson, Votto took issue. As he walked up the first-base line, he stared and yelled toward Madson and did so again while standing at first base, prompting home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher to issue a warning toward both dugouts.
Madson said he didn't mean to hit Votto, who left the clubhouse before reporters arrived. His teammates said he had family in town.
"I never want to hurt a guy. Never," Madson said. "So, glad he's OK."
Brice also hit Harper's right leg, but with an 82-mph curveball. Harper said Brice apologized.
Tucker Barnhart said he was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
After Adams homered off Harvey, Barnhart turned toward Fletcher and said something. Fletcher then ejected Barnhart, who disagreed with Fletcher's call on the pitch before Adams' dinger, Riggleman said.
"If you're arguing balls and strikes, you're going to get tossed," Riggleman said. "The umpires will take a certain amount of it."
Curt Casali replaced Barnhart. Barnhart is the third Reds player or coach to be ejected this season, joining Riggleman and Votto.
Suarez has hit seven of the Reds' past 15 home runs.
Luis Castillo will take the mound in the Reds' series finale against the Nationals at 1:35 p.m. ET on Sunday at Nationals Park. Castillo allowed four hits with nine strikeouts in a season-high seven innings during a win over the Phillies in his previous start. The right-hander, who will counter Washington starter Tanner Roark, adjusted his arm angle to give his four-seam fastball more life.