CINCINNATI — The Reds feel like they're finally climbing out of their rut.
The Reds took advantage of Strasburg's quick exit to win for only the second time in 12 games. After dropping nine in a row, they've won two of their last three, which qualifies as reason for optimism in Cincinnati.
"I like the way we fought back," manager Bryan Price said. "That was great to see. This is what we've been waiting for — to play better baseball. The last three games, we've played better baseball."
Strasburg had no problem with his neck in the first inning, when he gave up a solo homer by Joey Votto, his first since April 28. As he sat in the dugout between innings, the left side of his neck tightened up so much that he couldn't turn his head.
He walked Brayan Pena on his 16th pitch to open the second inning and left the game. It's unclear whether he'll have to miss his next scheduled start.
Strasburg had a rough May, failing to last four innings in four of his five starts. He left one start with tightness behind his shoulder.
Taylor Jordan (0-1) took over for Strasburg and gave up three runs in the sixth. Brandon Phillips — limited to pinch hitting because of a sore toe — tied the game with a sacrifice fly. Billy Hamilton hit a soft liner to center for a single that made it 3-2. Hamilton then stole second, and came home on Cozart's third single of the game.
Anthony DeSclafani (3-4) went six innings for his first win since April 20.
Todd Frazier added a solo homer, his 15th, as the Reds pulled away. Thirty of his 44 homers in the last two seasons have come at Great American Ball Park.
DeSclafani gave up a pair of runs and eight hits.
"He was tough as nails," Price said. "He was missing off the plate with his slider, so he had to utilize his fastball more. He was able to grind his way through it and give us the game we needed."
Desmond singled in the first inning, extending his hitting streak to 13 games.
CHAT AT FIRST
Harper was unhappy when Tony Cingrani hit him in the back with his first pitch in the seventh inning, staring at the pitcher while taking his time going down the line. Votto had an animated chat with Harper when he reached first base.
"What are you going to do?" Cingrani said. "He should've jogged. Be a baseball player. Sorry I hit you. Run."
Nationals: Right-hander Doug Fister, who went on the disabled list on May 15 with tightness in his forearm, threw without problem on Friday. He hasn't yet thrown a bullpen session.
Reds: Johnny Cueto, sidelined by inflammation in his pitching elbow, won't start again until at least next week.
Nationals: Left-hander Gio Gonzalez is 2-1 with a 1.06 ERA in five career starts against the Reds.
Reds: Raisel Iglesias makes his fourth start overall and his second filling in for Cueto. He lasted only three innings in a 5-2 loss in Cleveland on Sunday.
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