Reds bounce back with outstanding series

After losing 10 of 11, Cincinnati powers to sweep of first-place Nationals

Reds bounce back with outstanding series

CINCINNATI -- That must have been some team meeting.

On the heels of losing 10 of 11 games, including a stretch of nine in a row, manager Bryan Price called a team meeting after Wednesday's loss to the Rockies that left Reds players hopeful. Maybe they could return from Thursday's off-day focused and ready for the red-hot first-place Nationals.

Were they ever. Sunday's 8-2 Reds victory gave them their first three-game series sweep of the Nationals since 2011.

"It played a role," Red third baseman Todd Frazier said of the meeting. "It kind of put a fire under us a little bit. We were trying to find ourselves, basically. We finally did. This kind of series can hopefully get us going for next month."

Now 22-27, the Reds go from playing a division leader to playing a last-place team in Philadelphia on Tuesday following an off-day.

"It's getting back to understanding that we have the talent to be much better than we've been to this point," Price said. "I think we all know we have more talent here than a team that's several games under .500. [But] we just turned it around against a really nice club. We have to continue that, not take anything for granted, go out there on the road and play better than we have on the road."

Nationals misfortune also benefitted the Reds. Washington played without the injured Jayson Werth and isn't getting Anthony Rendon's injury-delayed debut until later this week. Friday starter Stephen Strasburg lasted only 16 pitches before exiting with a neck injury. Bryce Harper missed Saturday's game with a sore back, stemming from being hit by a pitch on Friday.

That's not to say the Reds didn't carry their own water for the wins this weekend. Among the many good things that happened:

• The offense, which is last in the Majors in hitting with runners in scoring position, was 12-for-28 in those situations in the series.

• The Reds swept a series with three rookie starting pitchers working in Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen.

Lorenzen's solid start

• The Reds came back to win both Friday and Saturday, with a three-run deficit on Saturday. On Sunday, Washington tied the game with two runs in the top of the seventh before the Reds responded with a six-run bottom half.

"I thought from an offensive standpoint, we had some outstanding at-bats," Price said.

• There were add-on runs scored after taking the lead in all three wins.

"The separation like that, it's been phenomenal," Price said. "It should be something that we strive for every game."

• Frazier went 8-for-12 in the series with two home runs and three doubles.

Frazier's solo home run

• There was excellent work from the bullpen. Until J.J. Hoover gave up a bases-loaded single in the seventh after inheriting the jam in the seventh, Reds relievers had given up no runs -- their own or inherited.

"It's good, it keeps everybody in it," center fielder Billy Hamilton said. "All of the talk outside around baseball is about how bad we've been playing and everything. It's just really good for us to win this series and get our confidence up and go on from here. "

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.