WASHINGTON (AP) - 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?"

Told Cingrani was, Desmond said "Yeah, he's got good stuff."

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 offense 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."

The Reds' Mat Latos (1-0, 2.16) faces Adam Wainwright (4-1) today in St. Louis.

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