Encarnacion drives in four as Reds stay hot

WASHINGTON (AP) -- If the Cincinnati Reds keep putting up runs at
this pace, whatever pitching problems they have might not matter.

Edwin Encarnacion tied his career high with four RBI, and
Cincinnati took advantage of Washington starter Billy Traber's
wildness to take an early lead Tuesday night, then held on for a
6-5 victory over the Nationals.

"Our mind set for each game is to score as many runs as
possible in any way we can. It just so happens we're getting them
early," said Adam Dunn, who scored twice. "It takes a lot of
pressure off our pitchers."

The Reds have won six of their last seven to improve to 14-7,
their first time seven games over .500 since July 4, 2004.

Cincinnati's 131 runs this season, a 6.2 average, lead the
majors. That's helped the Reds overcome a 5.37 ERA heading into
Tuesday that ranked 22nd of 30 teams.

"Once we got those runs, I felt like I could attack the strike
zone," said Cincinnati starter Dave Williams (1-2), who allowed
six earned runs in each of his previous two outings. "Our offense
has been doing that all year, giving us some room and letting us be

Washington dropped to 1-6 at home. Traber (1-1) lasted only 1
1-3 innings, forcing the Nationals to go deep into their bullpen,
using five relievers.

"We needed him to give us innings," Nationals manager Frank
Robinson said, then explained his second-inning removal of Traber
by adding: "You can't let the game get out of hand to where you
have no chance."

Williams wasn't brilliant but good enough for the win, allowing
four runs and nine hits in five-plus innings. He gave up rookie
Ryan Zimmerman's two-run homer in the second and Alfonso Soriano's
solo shot in the fifth.

Traber faced 11 batters, and seven reached base -- four hits, two
walks and a hit batsman. A night after scoring three first-inning
runs off Livan Hernandez, the Reds scored four in the opening
inning off Traber, who walked in a run and gave up Encarnacion's
two-run single and Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly.

Traber began the second by walking Williams, drawing some boos.
After Felipe Lopez followed by singling to center, Traber was

"We didn't pitch very well. We weren't consistently throwing
strikes, and things piled up," Traber said.

It was a big falloff from Traber's debut with the Nationals last
week, when he gave up two hits in 5 2-3 innings in a win over
Philadelphia. That was the lefty's first start in the majors in
more than 2½ years, because he missed all of 2004 after having
reconstructive elbow surgery the previous September.

"I don't think he felt his fastball was where he wanted it
tonight," catcher Matthew LeCroy said. "When you do that, a team
like that's going to beat you."

The Reds went up 6-2 in the fifth on Encarnacion's two-run
double off Felix Rodriguez when left fielder Soriano misjudged the

"I was patient, saw the ball very well, had confidence and hit
the ball well," said Encarnacion, who has 16 RBI in his last
eight games.

The Nationals chipped away at the Reds' lead, scoring two in the
second, and one each in the fifth and sixth off Williams, then
another in the seventh off Todd Coffey, an unearned run thanks to
shortstop Lopez's throwing error. But Washington could have had
more, erasing runners by hitting into three double plays.

David Weathers pitched the ninth for his sixth save.

Game notes
Nationals RHP John Patterson will miss his next scheduled
start because of a strained flexor muscle in his right forearm.
Patterson originally was slated to start the series finale against
the Reds on Wednesday, then was going to be pushed back a day. RHP
Ramon Ortiz will start Wednesday. ... Washington fell to 1-4 in
one-run games. ... Reds CF Ryan Freel went 0-for-5, failing to
reach base for the first time this season.