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Major League Baseball
Preview
Washington at Cincinnati
When: 7:10 PM ET, Friday, May 29, 2015
Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

Thanks to a month that has Bryce Harper getting mentioned with some of the all-time greats in the National League, the Washington Nationals are closing in on a record-breaking May if things go their way this weekend. The NL’s top home-run hitter looks to continue his prodigious stretch on Friday when the red-hot Nationals open a three-game set in Cincinnati against the struggling Reds.

Harper, whose 18 homers this season are tied with Seattle’s Nelson Cruz for the major-league lead, clubbed his 13th in May on Wednesday as Washington took two of three from the Chicago Cubs. His latest blast allowed him to become only the fifth right fielder in NL history – along with Frank Robinson, Andre Dawson, Vladimir Guerrero and Sammy Sosa – to hit at least that many in any one month. The Nationals, who are 18-6 in May and two victories shy of matching a franchise record for the most wins in a month, have won 21 of 27 overall due in part to the NL’s best offense. The Reds rank third-to-last in the majors in runs and find themselves going in the opposite direction as Washington, losing for the 10th time in 11 tries on Wednesday against Colorado.

TV: 7:10 p.m. ET, MASN2 (Washington), WUSA 9 (Washington), FSN Ohio (Cincinnati)

PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals RH Stephen Strasburg (3-5, 6.50 ERA) vs. Reds RH Anthony DeSclafani (2-4, 3.46)

Strasburg continued his struggles Saturday at home against Philadelphia, giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings en route to an 8-1 setback. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft saw his ERA over his last three outings swell to 11.25 as a result and has posted only one quality start in nine turns. Marlon Byrd (6-for-19 with a homer and six RBIs) is among the Reds that have fared well against Strasburg, who is 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA in three all-time starts against them.

DeSclafani held his own against reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber in his last time out, but did not factor into the decision during Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Cleveland. The New Jersey native, who is winless over his last six outings, yielded one run on three hits in seven frames in a start reminiscent of his stellar April (2-1, 1.04 ERA). DeSclafani will draw his first career start against the Nationals after holding them scoreless in three relief outings last year as a member of the Miami Marlins.

WALK-OFFS

1. Harper, who also leads the majors in RBIs (43) and walks (42), among other categories, is batting .375 with 28 RBIs this month.

2. Cincinnati 3B Todd Frazier, who is tied with the New York Yankees’ Mark Teixeira for third in the majors with 14 homers, has belted a league-best six of them in the first inning.

3. Washington CF Denard Span is batting .429 on the road in May, matching San Francisco's Nori Aoki for the NL lead.

PREDICTION: Nationals 6, Reds 5
Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away East Central West IL
Washington 28-19 W1 14-7 14-12 17-12 3-3 5-2 3-2
Cincinnati 19-27 L1 10-11 9-16 4-3 12-12 2-5 1-7
Last Meeting
Washington Cincinnati
Date Away Home Avg HR OPS Avg HR OPS
7/27/14 WAS 4 CIN 2 .161 0 .477 .206 0 .464
Player Stats
Season Series
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Washington N/A
Cincinnati N/A
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Washington A. Barrett 0 0 0
Cincinnati B. Badenhop 0 0 0
Pitching ERA Avg K
Washington 0.00 .000 0
Cincinnati 0.00 .000 0
Season
Batting Player Avg Hits OPS
Washington B. Harper .331 52 1.215
Cincinnati B. Phillips .297 46 .690
Offense Player HR Runs RBI
Washington B. Harper 18 41 43
Cincinnati T. Frazier 14 29 28
Pitching ERA Avg K
Washington 3.53 .256 377
Cincinnati 4.32 .235 325