CINCINNATI -- The Nationals didn't dally this time.
Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each hit a two-run homer Friday night in one of Washington's biggest scoring splurges of the season, leading the Nationals to a 7-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
The slow-starting Nationals had scored only three runs in the first inning all season. They had that many before making an out against Mike Leake (0-5), a positive sign for a team struggling to score consistently.
"Then we kept it going," manager Davey Johnson said. "I like that. We should have kept adding runs. One step at a time."
The only downside was an ill-advised swing by their frustrated 19-year-old outfielder. Bryce Harper had a rough night, going 0 for 5 with three strikeouts. After one of the outs, he returned to the dugout and took a frustrated whack at one of the walls in the tunnel to the clubhouse.
Johnson said the barrel of the bat bounced off the wall and hit Harper next to the left eye, causing a gash that, according to the Washington Times, required 10 stitches to close and a welt. He stayed in the game with it bandaged, but was sent for treatment afterward because it was bleeding.
"I just got caught up in the moment," Harper told the Times. "I want to do so well. It just got me."
Johnson said Harper likely would miss some time, but Harper said the opposite after the game.
"I think I'm good," Harper told the Times. "(The) doctor said I could play, so I'm going to play."
Washington matched its season high for runs by taking advantage of Leake, who lasted a career-low three innings and remained winless in six starts. He gave up seven hits and six runs, including the homers by Bernadina and Espinosa.
It's the second time Leake has failed to last four innings this season.
"I'm just not getting the job done," said Leake, who has a 7.11 ERA. "I'm not hitting my spots. I've got to figure it out. It's in my head somewhere. I've got to find it."
Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (4-1) struck out a season-high nine batters -- including six in a row -- but lasted only five innings because of a high pitch count. His performance came one day after Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 Pirates, including seven in a row, for a 4-2 win.
Bernadina also had one of Washington's three homers in the win in Pittsburgh.
The Nationals are in first place in the NL East on the strength of their pitching, which had allowed only 93 runs heading into the Cincinnati series -- fewest in the majors. Washington's .237 team batting average ranked near the bottom of the league.
Washington got rolling right away against Leake, who gave up Bernadina's homer and Adam LaRoche's RBI double before getting an out. He threw 28 pitches before retiring a batter.
Bernadina also singled home a run in the second. Espinosa hit his second homer in the third inning, forcing manager Dusty Baker to get his bullpen working.
Gonzalez gave up a pair of runs and didn't allow a homer in one of the majors' most hitter-friendly ballparks. He hasn't allowed a homer in his last eight starts since Sept. 23, a span of 50 innings that is the longest such streak of his career. It's also the longest active streak in the majors.
Too many pitches was the problem.
Jay Bruce hit a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and the Reds had a chance to get back into the game when Gonzalez lost his touch in the fifth. Zack Cozart singled home a run to cut it to 7-2, and Cincinnati loaded the bases with back-to-back walks and only one out. Gonzalez threw a fastball past Bruce for a strikeout, then got Scott Rolen to foul out on his 115th pitch of the game.
"The hitting was unbelievable," Gonzalez said. "The defense was incredible. The bullpen showed up and came through for me again."
Washington's Jordan Zimmermann (1-3) starts Saturday's game against Mat Latos (2-2), who has won his past two decisions. ... Johnson, who also managed the Reds, called shortstop Barry Larkin a complete player. "I've managed a lot of great ones," Johnson said. "The way he played, he was arguably the best one I've managed." Larkin goes into the Hall of Fame this summer. ... Rick Ankiel was out on a weird play in the fifth. His grounder hit first base and popped high in the air. Reds 1B Joey Votto caught it barehanded and threw to Alfredo Simon covering the base.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
What we're watching in the final two weeks of the MLB season
Our MLB experts pick out the one race, game, individual performance and more that they are tuning in to see during the rest of the regular season.
Bonds is rooting to see Judge's 61st HR live
Barry Bonds joins the KayRod Cast and says he hopes to see Aaron Judge make history while he's on the broadcast.
Red Sox bring 5-game losing streak into matchup against the Orioles
Baltimore Orioles (79-73, fourth in the AL East) vs. Boston Red Sox (72-80, fifth in the AL East)
Pirates take on the Reds in first of 3-game series
Cincinnati Reds (60-93, fourth in the NL Central) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (56-97, fifth in the NL Central)
Braves visit the Nationals to begin 3-game series
Atlanta Braves (95-58, second in the NL East) vs. Washington Nationals (53-99, fifth in the NL East)
Yankees visit the Blue Jays to start 3-game series
New York Yankees (94-58, first in the AL East) vs. Toronto Blue Jays (86-67, second in the AL East)