- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Washington Nationals reached the midpoint of the season atop the National League East thanks in part to the majors’ top-rated defense and solid contributions from the bullpen.

Against Cincinnati on Saturday, it was a rough night for Nationals reliever Sammy Solis and errors by first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and right fielder Bryce Harper that helped the Reds score five runs in the 10th inning for a 9-4 win.

“That’s something that’s rare for us,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.

Washington began the day with a major league-low 27 errors in 81 games.

“I think that really solidified us losing that game,” Harper said of the miscues.

Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart singled home the tiebreaking run off Solis in the 10th inning as Cincinnati snapped a five-game losing streak. The Reds scored on a fielding error and a wild pitch, and Jose Peraza and Jay Bruce also had RBIs in the 10th.

Eugenio Saurez and Brandon Phillips opened the inning with singles off Solis (1-3) and Zimmerman was unable to field Billy Hamilton’s sacrifice attempt, loading the bases.

“That was one me,” said Solis, who threw 1/3 of an inning but allowed three hits and four runs, three earned.

Solis had not allowed a run in any of his six previous appearances (7 2/3 innings), and pitched two scoreless innings in Washington’s 14-inning win Friday. He entered Saturday’s game with a 0.37 ERA in 17 appearances since May 10.

“I didn’t mix it up enough,” said Solis. “They just came out on top- a couple of those could have gone my way but when you fall behind hitters, especially in the big leagues they tend to get hits.”

Barnhart singled to right for his third hit of the game to drive in Suarez. Phillips also scored on the play when Harper booted the ball for his first error of the season. Hamilton later scored on a wild pitch, and Peraza had an RBI single and Bruce a run-scoring groundout.

“They’re usually sure-handed guys,” Baker said of Harper and Zimmerman, who had one error between them all season.

“These things happen, they don’t happen to us much. … It’s something we have to write off. We were fortunate to be in that game, really.”

Washington trailed 4-1 entering the eighth, but Espinosa had a two-run homer off starter Don Straily and Harper added an RBI single to tie the score.

Josh Smith (1-1) pitched 1 1/3 innings for his first career win.

Zack Cozart had three hits for the Reds and Adam Duvall doubled twice.

After allowing 17 runs in his last three starts, Straily took a one-hitter into the eighth.

Washington starter Joe Ross was touched for four runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs and two hits with four strikeouts and three walks.

Revere had an RBI triple in the third.

Ross, who gave up three runs in the first three innings before winning his last start, again struggled early.

The first two Reds hitters reached base to open the game and came home on Duvall’s double. Brandon Phillips, batting sixth for the first time this season, singled home Duvall.

Cozart’s double made it 4-0 in the second.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Baker said after the game that RHP Stephen Strasburg (back, ribs) will come off the off the DL and take his turn Sunday. Strasburg hasn’t started since June 15. … RHP Jonathan Papelbon (right intercostal strain) threw a scoreless inning Saturday night in his second rehab appearance for Double-A Harrisburg.

GLOVE STORY

Revere saved at least two runs with a diving catch in short center to end the fifth and a leaping catch at the wall for the last out of the sixth.

UP NEXT

Reds: LHP John Lamb (1-4, 4.60) has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his last six starts with only one win to show for it.

Nationals: Strasburg (10-0, 2.90) returns from the disabled list to face the Reds. He got a no-decision June 4 in Cincinnati when he allowed three runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings.

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