Cozart, Frazier each drill two homers to down Nats
CINCINNATI -- You needed to see home runs? Yeah, the Reds had some home runs on Friday night. Plenty of them, bunches of them. In fact, they had all kinds of home runs for your perusal.
Missed one? Don't worry, it felt like another long ball would be along soon enough.
Against the Nationals during a 15-0 rout, Cincinnati had solo shots, two-run blasts, three-run dingers and even a pinch-hit grand slam. There were two players -- Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart -- who enjoyed multi-homer games. All total, six of their 19 hits in the game came via home runs.
"It was exciting, team-wise," said Frazier, who was 4-for-5 with three runs scored and four RBIs. "Cozart was doing his thing and everybody was contributing. It was pretty cool. You wish you could have those games every day. We can live in this moment for a little longer and then we've got another game tomorrow."
Pitcher Dan Haren's Nationals debut did not go well as he was pounded for six runs and nine hits, including the game's first four home runs, over only four innings. Frazier got it started in the second inning when he crushed a one-out pitch 437 feet to the left-field upper bleachers for a solo homer.
On the very next pitch, a fastball, Cozart began his career-best five-RBI night when he went deep to the first row of seats in left field for his first homer that snapped an 0-for-11 skid to begin the season.
"For me personally, you don't want to think about it -- starting 0-for-11 -- because it's such a long season. But you're going to think about it," Cozart said. "I was just going up there trying to get a hit and ran into one. I can't hit them as far as [Frazier] obviously, so I just try to get them over the wall."
Cozart returned with two outs in the third inning and hit an 0-1 pitch to left field for a three-run homer and the first multi-homer game of his career. In the fourth inning with one out, Shin-Soo Choo hit a 2-1 Haren pitch into the first row in right-center field for his second homer in two days. The solo homer was reviewed on video replay by umpires for three minutes and 39 seconds before the call was upheld.
In the fifth inning against reliever Zach Duke, Cozart's sacrifice fly to right field scored Frazier for the fifth RBI, making it a 7-0 game. The run support was an embarrassment of riches for Reds starter Homer Bailey.
"Sometimes it might make you relax a little too much," Bailey said.
Bailey allowed two singles, three walks and struck out six. However, he didn't feel like it was his best night.
"Homer wasn't that sharp tonight, but was able to get out of trouble," Reds manager Dusty Baker said.
Bailey's fastball was working well and he used it for the majority of his 98 pitches. Of his four called strike threes, a pair were 95-mph heaters that locked up Ryan Zimmerman to begin the second inning and put down Ian Desmond to end the fourth.
"I'll take six shutout innings any night," Bailey said. "You have, like, 10 guys in here with home runs, so I'm sure you don't want to talk to me too much."
As the Reds began the week losing Ryan Ludwick until the All-Star break for right shoulder surgery, other key contributors were struggling in the first series besides Cozart. Although they did not get homers, Joey Votto, who came in 1-for-10, went 3-for-4. Jay Bruce was 1-for-13 with seven strikeouts, but was 2-for-5 on Friday with two doubles and narrowly missed a homer with a double off the left field wall.
Even Bailey was involved in the hitting, with a two-out double to right field in the third inning.
"That's when you know your team is having a good night -- if I get a hit," Bailey said. "Hey, it's contagious, right?"
It sure seemed so. The rout was in full swing by the bottom of the seventh inning as 11 men batted. Following a Jay Bruce RBI double off the left-center field wall, Frazier added a two-run homer to right field -- his third in two games.
"You've got to keep tacking on because you never know what can happen," Frazier said. "We play a lot of one-run games and to see us keep tacking on was pretty cool."
By this point, Baker became liberal with the substitutions. One of them was Xavier Paul, who was pinch-hitting with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a grand slam to right field -- the first of his career.
"There was something in the air tonight, I think," Paul said. "We swung the bats real well. Fortunately, I got in there and got a piece of the action."
The single-team record for homers in a game at Great American Ball Park is seven, done three times by the Reds -- most recently in 2011.
Coming into the game, the Nationals completed a three-game sweep of the Marlins and allowed only one run. They were the only team without a loss.
Last season's best team in baseball with 98 wins, one more than Cincinnati, the Nationals claimed the season series by winning five of seven games. However, six of those seven were decided by three runs or less, including three by one run and three that went to extra innings.
"A lot of people questioned how we're hitting the first series [vs. the Angels], even though we won two out of three," Cozart said. "We showed that we can hit. Tonight was obviously a good night. They've got good pitching and we hit their good pitching. Hopefully, we can keep it going this weekend."