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Lane Thomas smacks 3 home runs, lifts Nationals over Reds

Jun 3, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Washington Nationals left fielder Lane Thomas (28) high fives teammates after hitting a two-run home run against the Cincinnati Reds in the third inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Thomas broke out of an extended slump with three home runs and Josiah Gray silenced the bats of the team that drafted him to lead the visiting Washington Nationals past the Cincinnati Reds 8-5 on Friday night.

Thomas was 1-for-22 entering Friday’s game before doubling his season homer total to six. Tanner Rainey pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save in eight chances.

The Nationals, outscored 36-6 in four losses to open their 10-game road trip, homered five times off Cincinnati.

Gray (6-4) overcame a first-inning, two-run homer to Tommy Pham that glanced off the glove of center fielder Victor Robles and landed on the berm beyond the center field wall. Pham’s sixth homer of the season put the Reds ahead 2-0 in the first inning.

Originally selected by Cincinnati in the second round (No. 72 overall) of the 2018 MLB Draft, Gray held the Reds to two runs — one earned — on just two hits in six innings, striking out nine and walking three.

Nelson Cruz began the comeback in the second with a solo homer against Mike Minor (0-1), making his Cincinnati debut after missing the first two months with left shoulder soreness. Washington broke on top for good with four runs in the third, their biggest inning since a five-run first inning against Colorado on May 28.

After lining out to center in the first inning, Thomas got his big night underway with a two-run homer off Minor down the left field line that broke a 2-2 tie and put Washington ahead for good. Juan Soto followed immediately with a line drive to the seats in right, his 10th of the season.

Minor was pulled after four innings, allowing five runs on six hits, striking out four and walking none.

Facing Vladimir Gutierrez in the fifth, Thomas belted a fastball to the seats in right-center. He then made it 7-2 when he led off the seventh inning with a homer against Jeff Hoffman. It marked Washington’s first three-homer game since Kyle Schwarber went deep three times against the New York Mets on June 20, 2021.

Maikel Franco tacked on an RBI single later in the seventh for Washington.

With a chance at a fourth home run, Thomas flew out to center for the second out of the eighth inning.

The Reds cut Washington’s 8-2 lead in half when Joey Votto homered to the opposite field off reliever Victor Arano with two on to make it 8-5. The homer also tied Votto with Johnny Bench for fourth place on Cincinnati’s all-time hit list with 2,048.

–Field Level Media