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Desmond's HR rallies Nationals over Reds 7-6 in 11

Saturday - 4/6/2013, 5:54pm  ET

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper loosens up in the on deck circle in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Saturday, April 6, 2013, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

JOE KAY
AP Baseball Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Ian Desmond slapped his hands together as hard as he could when he approached home plate, about to score the go-ahead run in the 11th inning.

His rough day was ending with a very good moment.

Desmond made two errors that helped the Cincinnati Reds take the game to extra innings, then led off the 11th with his first home run of the season, rallying the Washington Nationals to a 7-6 victory Saturday.

"A lot of mixed feelings right now," Desmond said.

Great American Ball Park can do that to anybody.

Bryce Harper also homered for the Nationals, who were coming off a 15-0 loss in the series opener -- their most lopsided defeat since baseball returned to Washington in 2005. The Reds hit six homers in that one, pounding a pitching staff that gave up only one run in its first three games.

Washington got the better of it this time, hitting five homers to Cincinnati's one. The teams have combined for 12 homers, accounting for 20 of the 28 runs in the series.

Mistake pitches have landed in the seats. So have some good ones.

"Strange things happen here," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I'm hoarse from yelling."

Desmond's two errors led to a pair of runs that helped the Reds rally from a 5-1 deficit against one of the NL's best bullpens, which has been hit hard in the first two games of the series.

Nationals closer Rafael Soriano blew a save for the first time in three chances. He gave up a leadoff homer to Shin-Soo Choo in the ninth before Joey Votto tripled -- his first extra-base hit of the season -- and scored on a wild pitch.

"It's been two crazy games," said Washington outfielder Jayson Werth, who hit a solo shot. "Last night, they didn't miss all night. Today I felt we were in command, then we weren't, then we were."

Not until the final pitch.

Desmond's leadoff homer in the 11th off J.J. Hoover (0-2) made it 6-5. Wilson Ramos added a solo homer, his second of the game.

Craig Stammen (1-0) pitched the last two innings. He gave up a two-out RBI double to Brandon Phillips in the 11th before fanning Jay Bruce to end it.

"We had a chance to win that game several times," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We've got to come up with the big hit. I guess turnabout's fair play."

Extra-inning games have been the norm between the NL's top two teams from last season -- Washington won a league-best 98 games, Cincinnati 97. They've gone to extra innings in five of their last 10 meetings.

The Reds also lost their opener to the Angels 3-1 in 13 innings on Monday, with Hoover giving up a pair of runs.

Harper connected on a two-run shot off Mike Leake in the third inning, his third homer of the season. Ramos added a two-run homer in the sixth, a pleasant moment in a ballpark where the catcher had his lowest point last season.

Ramos also homered at Great American last year, but later tore cartilage in his right knee while chasing a passed ball. He needed two operations to get the knee healed and missed the rest of the season.

Washington made three errors that kept the Reds in it.

Desmond's throwing error set up Todd Frazier's RBI double in the fourth. His fielding error let in another run in the eighth that trimmed it to 5-4. Desmond has four errors already after committing only 15 last season.

"Guys are getting me ground balls, and I look like I've never fielded a ground ball before," Desmond said. "It's tough.

"I can't imagine what it would have been like with a loss. Obviously for myself it wouldn't have been an easy day. It's still not going to be an easy day -- 1 for 4 with two errors isn't very productive, I guess you'd say."

Frazier had three hits and drove in two of Cincinnati's runs. He's the only Reds player to hit safely in all five games.

Choo, obtained from Cleveland in the offseason to bat leadoff, had a homer and a single, and was hit by a pitch for the fourth time in five games. He has reached base safely in 13 of his 25 plate appearances.

NOTES: The Reds honored Johnson on the field before the game, presenting etched glassware among his gifts. Johnson, the NL Manager of the Year last season, led the Reds to the NL championship series in 1995. ... Nationals 1B Adam LaRoche got a day off. He's been bothered by a sore back and is 0 for 13, matching the worst start of his career. ... Votto is 5 for 18 this season with four singles and one RBI.

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Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay


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