CINCINNATI (AP) — Washington’s CJ Abrams and Lane Thomas hit Lyon Richardson’s first two major league pitches for home runs and the last-place Nationals finished a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds with a 6-3 win on Sunday.
Over the last 50 seasons, Richardson, 23, is the only pitcher to allow a home run on each of the first two pitches of his major league career, according to Optastats.
Abrams and Thomas teamed up to hit two fastballs a combined 808 feet. Abrams reached the first section of seats down the right field line with a 402-foot shot for his first career leadoff homer. Thomas followed with a 408-foot drive to center field for his third homer of the series.
“As the leadoff hitter, I’m looking fastball,” Abrams said. “I got one middle up and put a good swing on it.”
“It was cool to put another good swing behind him,” Thomas added.
“We got off to a great start,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “Two pitches, two runs. Those two are catalysts for us. They’ve been consistent in getting us going. They’ve been doing well for us all year. CJ and Lane are doing the job for us.”
Richardson (0-1) went 3-0 on Joey Meneses, the next batter, before throwing a strike that sparked a sarcastic cheer from the crowd.
Jake Au added a two-run single to Washington’s four-run first.
Abrams finished with four hits and Thomas went 7-for-13 with eight RBIs in the series.
Washington (49-63) has won four straight for the first time since June 27-30, 2021, and six of eight going into a series at Philadelphia.
“So far, so good,” Martinez said. “We have another tough team tomorrow. We have a short flight and then have to get ready for tomorrow.”
Joey Votto and TJ Friedl hit solo homers for the sliding Reds (59-55), who have lost six straight for the second time in a month and the third time this season to fall out of first place in the NL Central and into with the Cubs for second.
The right-handed Richardson rebounded from his rocky start to add two hitless innings, finishing with four hits and four runs with three walks and two strikeouts.
“I didn’t think I made that bad of a pitch,” Richardson said. “I might have missed a little bit more middle than I wanted to. I think he was just ready for a heater and hit it.
“I don’t think I’d redo it. I was just thinking that I had to get myself dialed in and get a few outs here. There is always nerves but I do a pretty good job of managing it. It wasn’t necessarily the nerves that got the pitches hit. It was me.”
“It was an unfortunate way to start the game and major league career,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He has a long one ahead of him and just the way he was able to keep pitching and hold it together for three innings, really says a lot about him. It is a tough way to start, I mean, you get off to a rough start like that in your debut. We’ve seen guys back away. We’ve known that about Lyon. He was given an opportunity there to demonstrate who he is and why he’s going to be so good.”
Washington starter Jake Irvin lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, three runs and two walks with six strikeouts. Andrés Machado (3-0) got the win. Kyle Finnegan gave up two singles in the ninth but hung on for his 17th save in 24 tries.
Votto went opposite field to left for a 357-foot solo homer in the second. Friedl lofted a 386-foot drive down the right field line that reached the netting over the visitors’ bullpen for his second homer in two days.
The sweep was Washington’s first of the Reds since Aug. 12-14, 2019, and the first in Cincinnati since March 30-April 1, 2018. The Nationals hadn’t swept a road series since Aug. 23-25, 2019 – the year they won the World Series.
Nationals: C Israel Pineda (right finger fracture) was returned from a rehab assignment, reinstated from the 60-day injured list and optioned to Double-A Harrisburg. RHP Paolo Espino was released.
Reds: LHP Alex Young left the game with an undisclosed injury while pitching to his second batter of the eighth inning.
Nationals: RHP Trevor Williams (5-6) was reinstated from the three-day bereavement list on Sunday in time to start Monday at Philadelphia.
Reds: LHP Brandon Williamson (3-2) is Cincinnati’s scheduled starter in Monday’s opener of a three-game series against Miami.