WASHINGTON -- Tony Cingrani started the fourth inning with a strikeout, but the batter reached on a wild pitch. The next hitter doubled, and after striking out Bryce Harper, another batter walked to load the bases.
But as he always does, Cingrani kept attacking.
With the bases loaded, Cingrani threw only one ball while striking out Ian Desmond and threw only one more ball while striking out Adam LaRoche for the Reds rookie's fourth K of the inning.
"That's what I do," Cingrani said.
Not usually like that, though.
Cingrani struck out a career-high 11 and the Reds beat the Washington Nationals 5-2 Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.
"He threw strikes. He threw near strikes, some tease strikes," Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said of Cingrani, who allowed two hits in six shutout innings. "He was around the plate."
Cingrani joined Joe Nuxhall, Mario Soto, Tim Birtsas and Frankie Rodriguez as the only Reds with a four-strikeout inning.
Brandon Phillips had a two-run single as the Reds (14-12) improved to a major league-worst 2-9 on the road.
"I can't stress enough, I'm just happy to get a win," Baker said.
Cingrani also became the first Cincinnati rookie to strike out 10 in a game since Johnny Cueto struck out 10 San Diego Padres on July 22, 2008, and the first left-handed Reds rookie to do so since Dennys Reyes struck out 12 Pittsburgh Pirates on August 20, 1998.
"He was good," said Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, whose team fell to 13-12. "I don't even know. Is he a rookie?"
Desmond was told yes.
"Yeah, he's got good stuff," Desmond said.
Cingrani apparently hasn't caught everyone's attention yet, but if he keeps increasing his strikeouts -- eight in his first start, nine in his second and now 11 in his third -- he will soon enough.
The Reds, who had one hit in each of the series' first two games, found enough offence Sunday to lead from the first inning onward.
Cincinnati had four infield singles, and not only did No. 9 hitter Cingrani and No. 8 hitter Corky Miller score after their infield hits, Miller scored on an infield hit by Zack Cozart.
"I don't care how we get them, just as long as we get them" Baker said. "You know what I mean? Hits are hard to come by sometimes. There's no such thing as an ugly hit."
Joey Votto provided the Reds' only extra-base hit, a first-inning double that set the stage for Phillips' two-run single.
Washington manager Davey Johnson called Phillips' hit starting pitcher Ross Detwiler's "biggest mistake." Detwiler (1-2) allowed three earned runs in five innings, and the 11 hits he allowed matched a career high.
Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki doubled in the seventh, scoring Desmond. Desmond then doubled in the eighth to score Bryce Harper, who walked in a 10-pitch plate appearance.
Aroldis Chapman earned his fifth save in five opportunities.
NOTES: Reds RF Jay Bruce, who had hit fifth in each of Cincinnati's first 25 games, dropped to sixth in the lineup. The team's normal No. 6 hitter, 3B Todd Frazier, moved up to fifth. "Things change during the course of the season," Baker said. "We are in a production business." Bruce had two hits Sunday, and Frazier had one. ... LaRoche is 0 for his last 26. He struck out thrice Sunday, including once with the bases loaded. Half his at-bats in the skid have now ended in strikeouts. ... Nationals reliever Henry Rodriguez walked Miller in the eighth inning on a pitch that caromed so hard off the backstop, the ball nearly hit Rodriguez on the mound. . The Nationals and Reds completed their season series Sunday. Washington won three of seven. ... Basketball Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Wood were among 10 members inducted before the game into the Washington D.C. Sports Hall of Fame. ... Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.16) will face Braves RHP Julio Teheran (1-0, 5.48) on Monday in Atlanta. ... Cincinnati RHP Mat Latos (1-0, 2.16) will face Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (4-1) on Monday in St. Louis.