CINCINNATI — Washington’s CJ Abrams and Lane Thomas hit Lyon Richardson’s first two major league pitches for home runs, and the last-place Nationals finished a three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds with a 6-3 win Sunday.
Over the last 50 seasons, Richardson, 23, is the only pitcher to allow a home run on each of the first two pitches of his major league career, according to Optastats.
Abrams and Thomas teamed up to hit two fastballs a combined 808 feet. Abrams reached the first section of seats down the right field line with a 402-foot shot for his first career leadoff homer. Thomas followed with a 408-foot drive to center field for his third homer of the series.
“As the leadoff hitter, I’m looking fastball,” Abrams said. “I got one middle up and put a good swing on it.”
“It was cool to put another good swing behind him,” Thomas added.
“We got off to a great start,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “Two pitches, two runs. Those two are catalysts for us. They’ve been consistent in getting us going. They’ve been doing well for us all year. CJ and Lane are doing the job for us.”
Richardson (0-1) went 3-0 on Joey Meneses, the next batter, before throwing a strike that sparked a sarcastic cheer from the crowd.
Jake Au added a two-run single to Washington’s four-run first.
Abrams finished with four hits, and Thomas went 7-for-13 with eight RBIs in the series.
Washington (49-63) has won four straight for the first time since June 27-30, 2021, and six of eight going into a series at Philadelphia.
“So far, so good,” Martinez said. “We have another tough team tomorrow. We have a short flight and then have to get ready for tomorrow.”
Joey Votto and TJ Friedl hit solo homers for the sliding Reds (59-55), who have lost six straight for the second time in a month and the third time this season to fall out of first place in the NL Central and into a tie with the Cubs for second.
The right-handed Richardson rebounded from his rocky start to add two hitless innings, finishing with four hits and four runs with three walks and two strikeouts.
“I didn’t think I made that bad of a pitch,” Richardson said. “I might have missed a little bit more middle than I wanted to. I think he was just ready for a heater and hit it.
“I don’t think I’d redo it. I was just thinking that I had to get myself dialed in and get a few outs here. There is always nerves, but I do a pretty good job of managing it. It wasn’t necessarily the nerves that got the pitches hit. It was me.”
Washington starter Jake Irvin lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, three runs and two walks with six strikeouts. Andrés Machado (3-0) got the win. Kyle Finnegan gave up two singles in the ninth but hung on for his 17th save in 24 tries.