Zimmermann hopes to get untracked against Reds

Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann tries to get back to winning on Friday night when the Washington Nations host the Cincinnati Reds in the second test of a four-game series at Nationals Park.

A former second-round pick of the Nationals in 2007, Zimmermann won a career- high 12 games last season and opened 2013 with consecutive defeats of Miami, the Chicago White Sox and Miami again.

In those wins, he allowed 21 hits and six earned runs across 22 innings.

He dropped his first game of the year on April 21, when the New York Mets beat him, 2-0, after he gave up two runs and two hits with four strikeouts in five innings.

Zimmermann is 2-0 in four career starts against the Reds with a stingy 1.88 earned run average across 24 innings.

The Reds will start Homer Bailey against the Nationals for the fourth time in his career and the second time this season.

Bailey, the seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft, tossed six innings of scoreless two-hit ball in beating Washington, 15-0, on April 5. He walked three and struck out six in that game, which followed a career-high 13 wins last season, but is 0-1 in three starts since.

Most recently, on April 20, Bailey gave up seven hits and two runs in six innings of a no-decision against Miami.

The Reds won the game, 10-6, and are 3-1 in Bailey's four starts.

On Thursday, Gio Gonzalez was nearly unhittable and got plenty of run support as the Nationals rolled to an 8-1 victory.

Gonzalez (2-1) spun eight brilliant innings and only allowed one hit -- a home run off the bat of Joey Votto. The left-hander walked two and struck out seven to halt Washington's four-game losing streak.

"It was getting those first-pitch strikes that helped," said Gonzalez. "You don't want to give them a chance by falling behind and letting them get a swing at it. That's what happened with Votto and he made me pay for it."

Danny Espinosa celebrated his 26th birthday with a home run and three RBI, Denard Span went 3-for-5 and also knocked in three runs and Bryce Harper added two hits -- including a solo homer -- in the victory.

The Reds won two of three from the Nationals in a season-opening series at Cincinnati earlier this month. Washington won five of seven games with the Reds in 2012.