CINCINNATI -- After getting shut out Saturday afternoon, the Nationals turned the tables Sunday. Right-hander Doug Fister was outstanding over seven innings as Washington defeated the Reds, 4-2, at Great American Ball Park.
The Nationals are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Braves in the National League East.
Fister worked fast on the mound and it paid off, as he allowed three hits, struck out five batters and induced nine ground-ball outs. The Reds didn't have a runner in scoring position while Fister was on the mound.
"He had good changeups today," manager Matt Williams said. "He used it to both right-handers and left-handers. He worked ahead. He threw some pretty good pitches."
From afar, Reds shortstop Ramon Santiago admired how Fister pitched.
"Fister goes out there and he doesn't give in," Santiago said. "He is always around the plate, he mixes all his pitches pretty good. He's been one of the best pitchers in the league for a couple years.
"I played with him, and he goes after it. He had pretty good movement on his pitches and he threw a pretty good game."
Fister was reluctant to talk about his performance on the mound. He credited the defense behind him for winning the game. In the sixth inning, for example, third baseman Anthony Rendon made a nice diving play off the bat of Todd Frazier to get the force at second.
"Everybody was playing defense, where it's Rendon at third or [Adam LaRoche] making a great play at first. ... Everybody was just giving everything they had," Fister said. "That's what we are doing here. That's why we are playing well together and having some success.
Fister's season didn't start until May because of a lat strain, but he is tied for the team lead in wins with 10. Fister declined to talk about his own impressive stats.
"I never look at it like that. The big number was Rafael Soriano getting his 200th save," Fister said. "It's stuff like that that we look at. We have great respect for each other. Those are the highlights for the day. I don't look at anything else."
Fister wasn't the only one who pitched well. During the three-game series against the Reds, the Nationals' starters -- Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez and Fister -- went seven innings in each game and picked up two victories.
"We were fortunate to take two out of three here, because they pitched pretty well as well," Williams said. "Our starters go deep in games. There has been a hiccup or two along the way, but they have pitched pretty well. They give us a chance everyday to do what we did today. They put an inning together and scored a couple of runs. They give us the opportunity to do that every time they go out. That's comforting for everybody."
Fister was given run support in the fifth inning off Reds right-hander Mat Latos. The bases were loaded when Jayson Werth came to the plate. He was behind in the count, 0-2, but managed to draw a walk, allowing Danny Espinosa to score.
"In that situation, you can't give in," Werth said. "I thought the strike two pitch was probably in. So he jumped ahead of me pretty good. After that, the rest of the pitches weren't close. The last pitch was a fastball away from the plate for ball four. I felt I was in good position to hit. He just didn't come to me."
LaRoche followed with a single to left field, scoring Denard Span and Rendon to make it a three-run game.
The Nationals added to their lead in the ninth inning off right-hander Carlos Contreras. Rendon singled to right field, scoring Nate McLouth to make it a four-run game.
"Anthony's at-bat in the last inning is typical of the way he has gone about it all year," Williams said. "Fouling balls off, battling and just getting the bat on the ball, shooting it to right to score another one. We don't have to win by the home run, because the guys that are out there put quality at-bats together."
After Fister left the game, reliever Tyler Clippard tossed a scoreless eighth and gave way to Aaron Barrett for the ninth. After allowing two baserunners, Barrett was taken out of the game in favor of Soriano, who gave up a double to Devin Mesoraco, scoring Frazier and Jay Bruce. But Soriano stopped the bleeding by retiring the next three hitters he faced to pick up his 25th save.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.