Fister targets fifth straight winning decision in finale against Reds

( - Doug Fister tries to win his fifth consecutive decision as the Washington Nationals play the rubber match of their three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon at Great American Ball Park.

Fister is 4-0 over his last five starts and hasn't lost since June 15 at St. Louis. The right-hander pitched in and out of several jams in his last start, Monday at Colorado where he gave up nine hits and two runs over 5 2/3 innings in a 7-2 win. Fister's lone appearance against the Reds came May 20 in the nation's capital when he threw seven solid frames in a 9-4 triumph.

Mat Latos counters on the hill for the Reds. The righty suffered the loss on Monday at Milwaukee when he allowed eight hits and five runs -- four earned -- over seven frames. Latos is 3-1 with a 2.34 ERA in six games versus the Reds.

The Reds snapped a season-long seven-game skid with a 1-0 victory Saturday afternoon. Johnny Cueto hurled seven strong innings. Cueto (11-6) limited the Nationals to four hits and walked three while striking out nine for Cincinnati, which hasn't lost eight in a row since July 28-Aug. 4, 2009.

"Most teams are going to go through a stretch like this and you hope it's not in September and it takes you out of the race," Reds manager Bryan Price said about ending the losing streak. "It was in the end of July and it hasn't."

Gio Gonzalez (6-6) was up to the task in opposing Cueto, allowing a run on four hits with eight strikeouts.

"Cueto has been fantastic," Gonzalez said. "It was going to be a close one all the way to the end."

Even though the Reds snapped their skid yesterday, several players are mired in slumps at the plate. Zack Cozart is hitless in his last 20 at-bats. Jay Bruce is in a 2-for-28 slide and All-Star Todd Frazier is in a 1-for-17 slump.

The Nationals enter today with a 1 1/2-game lead on Atlanta for first place in the NL East, while the Reds are six games behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee.

The Nationals have an opportunity for another series victory today. Dating to May 30, Washington is 11-2-2 in series play.

Cincinnati took two of three from the Nats May 19-21. The Nationals have captured just three series in nine seasons at Great American Ball Park.