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Arroyo allows one hit in eight innings as Reds win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Everything, it seems, is going right for
Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati Reds these days. And all is amiss
for the Washington Nationals.

Arroyo threw eight innings of one-hit ball, and Cincinnati
jumped out to an early lead just as they did all series in a 5-0
victory over Washington on Wednesday that completed a three-game
sweep.

Arroyo improved to 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA in five starts, allowing
only Ryan Zimmerman's single to right-center with two outs in the
fourth.

The right-hander left after 119 pitches -- "I was running out of
juice," he said -- and Kent Mercker and David Weathers combined for
a hitless ninth.

"I went out there today and was warming up in the 'pen, and I
knew I had good stuff," Arroyo said. "When you've got good stuff,
especially playing in a park like this, that's so big, you can be
really aggressive and kind of go after these guys."

He struck out eight and walked two in his latest impressive
outing since a spring training trade from the Red Sox. Arroyo was
headed to Boston's bullpen when he was dealt for outfielder Wily Mo
Pena.

"It's a little different vibe," Arroyo said. "Being in
Boston, you're expected to win every night. Here, they're picking
us to run neck-and-neck with the Pirates in last place."

Thanks to Arroyo and the majors' highest-scoring offense, the
Reds are 15-7, including four consecutive victories to cap a 6-1
road trip. They scored a total of seven first-inning runs in the
opening two games at Washington, and went up 4-0 by the fourth on
Wednesday off Ramon Ortiz (0-3).

David Ross got things going with an upper-deck homer in the
third inning, his third homer in 25 at-bats. The Reds tacked on
three the next inning, when they batted around and were helped by
poor fielding by the Nationals.

And what about those Nationals? The team that was the feel-good
story for much of 2005, leading the NL East into July in its first
season in Washington, dropped to 7-14 with a fourth straight loss.

Emblematic of their recent problems, the Nationals had more
errors in one inning (two in the fourth) than hits in the entire
game.

"You can't keep going like this and saying, 'Well, it's early.
It's going to come around.' We need to get results," manager Frank
Robinson said, "and we need to get them starting tomorrow."

That won't necessarily be easy, given that the Nationals play
Thursday at St. Louis, and their starter will be Mike O'Connor, a
left-hander making his major league debut. On three days' rest, to
boot.

There's more: John Patterson, Washington's top starter so far,
is being skipped in the rotation in St. Louis because of a strained
right forearm, and he said Wednesday he's not sure when he'll be
able to pitch next.

And then, of course, there's still the pending question of who
will buy the Nationals. A local TV station report about which of
eight bidders will get the team -- a report categorically denied by
Major League Baseball -- made the rounds in the clubhouse.

Washington fell to 1-7 at home this season, and once again
played before a sparse crowd at 46,382-capacity RFK Stadium. The
announced attendance was 19,380, meaning each of the past four
games drew thinner crowds than the smallest of 2005.

"We need to start performing the way this team is capable of
and what we expect -- and that's pitching, defense and hitting,"
Robinson said. "Until we do that, we're going to get beat."

On Wednesday, Arroyo did have the benefit of not having to face
two of Washington's best hitters, Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen, who
didn't start. Still, Arroyo has established himself as the ace of a
staff that doesn't have another member of the rotation with an ERA
under 4.50.

"It should take a lot of pressure off the other guys," Reds
manager Jerry Narron said. "The other thing is, just watching him
pitch, how he throws strikes, how he commands the baseball, I think
that has got to wear off on guys."

Game notes
Nationals RHP Jon Rauch registered four strikeouts in the
eighth inning: Ross, Arroyo, Felipe Lopez (who reached on a
third-strike wild pitch) and Adam Dunn. It's the 48th time in major
league history a pitcher had four Ks in an inning, and first since
Aug. 3, 2004, when current Nationals LHP Mike Stanton did it for
the Mets against the Brewers. ... Washington LF Alfonso Soriano
went 0-for-4, ending his 11-game hitting streak. ... It was
Cincinnati's first one-hitter since Aug. 19, 1999, when Pete
Harnisch (eight innings) and Scott Williamson (one) combined to do
it against Pittsburgh. ... ... In response to a report about the
sale of the Nationals, MLB president Bob DuPuy issued a statement
saying: "No decision has been made to date. The commissioner and I
continue to meet with representatives of the groups and there will
be an official announcement when the decision is made."