Desmond sends Nats to victory then gets sent off

WASHINGTON -- Ian Desmond has been one of the Washington Nationals' most productive players in clutch situations this season. He came through again Friday and quickly exited the game.

The shortstop's RBI single broke a seventh-inning tie, the key hit in a rally that led to the Nationals' 4-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds -- a rally that ended with a wild sacrifice-fly double-play and Desmond's ejection.

The big hit came after an early mistake in the at-bat. Desmond came to the plate with no outs and runners on first and second. He attempted to bunt but it went foul, giving him the chance to swing away.

"I hate to say that I give more focus to those at-bats," Desmond said. "But after I missed the bunt, I told myself, 'Hey, we've got to really do something here.' "

It's a situation the No. 7 hitter has thrived in this season; Desmond is now hitting .373 with runners in scoring position, including 25 RBIs in 59 at-bats. He's also got 10 RBIs in the past 11 games.

The play that had everyone talking after the game, though, came two batters after Desmond gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead.

A sacrifice bunt put Desmond on second and Roger Bernadina -- who reached on an error when centerfielder Drew Stubbs collided with left fielder Jonny Gomes -- on third base with two outs. Pinch-hitter Willie Harris lifted a short fly ball to center field. Stubb's throw home bounced off the mound and high in the air, allowing Bernadina to score even though third-base coach Pat Listach appeared to throw up a stop sign.

"I was like, 'I'm going for it,' and it turned out well," Bernadina said.

Desmond took off for third and beat the throw, but his foot momentarily came off the bag at the end of his slide. Third base umpire Paul Schrieber initially ruled Desmond safe. Dusty Baker came out to argue the call and crew chief Joe West, who was working first base, overturned the call. As the Nationals argued the reversal, Desmond tossed his helmet and West ejected him.

"I just dropped my helmet, I was kind of shocked," Desmond said. "And he threw me out. I didn't say anything to him, he didn't really say anything to me."

Tyler Clippard (8-3) earned the win for working a scoreless seventh inning, allowing one hit. Matt Capps closed the ninth for his 18th save in 21 chances.

Enerio Del Rosario (1-1) took the loss for Cincinnati, which has dropped four of its last five games.

"We've just got to play better -- play better defense and get some timely hitting, as we're accustomed to getting," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We kind of let that one get away."

Washington's late rally came after both starters gave up eight hits, with both offenses getting two runs.

Cincinnati starter Aaron Harang, who had lasted at least six innings in his past seven starts, had his shortest outing of the season, leaving after four innings. Washington starter Livan Hernandez got a helping hand at the end of his six innings by Bernadina's diving catch to end the sixth inning and preserve a 2-all tie.

Game notes
Nationals C Ivan Rodriguez, on the disabled list since May 24 (lower back strain), could return by Tuesday, according to manager Jim Riggleman. Riggleman said Rodriguez would first make a rehab appearance with Single-A Potomac and the schedule for his return would be set this weekend. ... Cincinnati RHP Homer Bailey threw a bullpen session Friday. Bailey, who has been on the DL since May 24 (right shoulder) said he felt good after throwing. ... Several Reds, including Harang, visited wounded troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Friday morning. ... The crowd of 33,774 was the largest at Nationals Park since opening day. Ticket sales had been fueled by widespread speculation 2009 No. 1 draft choice Stephen Strasburg would make his Washington debut against the Reds until the Nationals announced Monday he would debut on June 8.