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Reds waste fast start, lose 6-4 to Nats

The Cincinnati Reds got off to a fast start Tuesday night. It just fell apart in a hurry.

Jay Bruce and Ramon Hernandez each hit a two-out RBI single in the first inning, but the Washington Nationals responded with three in the bottom half and went on to a 6-4 victory.

"It kind of hurt in the first inning," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Our defense let us down in the first when they got those three runs. ... We kept fighting and fighting, but we just couldn't muster up two or three hits in a row."

Mike Leake (10-8) allowed six runs, five earned, and five hits in six innings for Cincinnati. He was 2-3 with a 2.53 ERA in his previous five starts.

"I felt like I threw the ball pretty good," Leake said. "The balls that they hit out were off the plate, good pitches. I don't know if they had a good plan or what."

Mike Morse had an RBI double and Ian Desmond tacked on a two-out, two-run double in the Washington first. Morse added a drive to right in the third that made it 4-2 and Ryan Zimmerman went deep in the fifth for his seventh homer.

Depending on who was talking, Zimmerman called his leadoff shot.

"None of us believed him," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He said he was going to hit a bomb, and he went up there. I guess the guy was pitching him fastballs in early in the count, and he said, 'When he comes in there, I'm just going to hit it out of the ballpark.'"

When asked about Johnson's story, Zimmerman played coy about his second homer in four games.

"If Davey said it, then I might have, but I don't know," he said. "We'll see. I'm not saying I called it. ... We don't do that kind of stuff."

Cincinnati scored in the sixth and seventh to pull within two, but couldn't complete the rally. Joey Votto doubled and scored on Jay Bruce's grounder in the sixth and Edgar Renteria added an RBI double, but that was it for the Reds.

"We're not scoring a lot of runs right now," Baker said. "It puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher, so you've really got to pitch and play defense."

Cincinnati's defense let Leake down when Votto misplayed Rick Ankiel's sharply hit ball down the first-base line in the fourth. The error allowed Wilson Ramos to score, making it 5-2.

Washington starter Chien-Ming Wang (2-2) allowed four runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings in his longest outing since he pitched 7 1-3 innings for the New York Yankees at Oakland on June 10, 2008.

The right-hander has won consecutive starts for the first time since 2008. He missed the previous two years after shoulder surgery.

"I think he's just going to get stronger," Johnson said of Wang, who threw more breaking balls because his sinker wasn't sharp. "From what I've seen, he wasn't tired, and he was still throwing the ball hard."

Drew Storen pitched the ninth inning for his 32nd save in 36 chances.

NOTES: Renteria left in the seventh inning after he strained his left groin while running the bases. He will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. ... Tuesday marked the first meeting between the Reds and Nationals this season. "I'm not a fan of the unbalanced schedule. Not at all," Johnson said. Astros-Giants and Astros-Rockies are now the only intraleague matchups that haven't yet occurred. ... The Reds' Johnny Cueto (8-5, 1.94) will face the Nationals' Ross Detwiler on Wednesday night.