Taiwan’s Wang Chien-ming (2-2) earned his second straight win for the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night, pitching his team to a 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
In his fourth start since his return to the major leagues after missing two years with a shoulder injury, Wang allowed four earned runs on seven hits over 6-1/3 innings, but he was not as sharp as in his previous outing against the Chicago Cubs.
Wang said his signature sinker, which he used on about 70 percent of his 78 pitches, was not working as well as he would have liked.
“When the sinker is not sinking, I try to find out a solution, maybe mix in the changeup or slider, and get both down and try to get more batters out,” Wang said through a translator.
After getting back-to-back wins for the first time since June 2008 when he was with the New York Yankees, the 31-year-old right-hander said he had pretty much regained his old form, but still needed to get the sinker down in the strike zone more consistently.
He will also have to figure out how to avoid shaky starts. For the third time in four games, Wang started slowly, giving up two runs in the top of the first on back-to-back RBI singles by Jay Bruce and Ramon Hernandez.
However, the Nats rallied in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-2 lead. Wang then settled down and allowed only one Reds hitter to reach base — on an error — over the next four innings, during which his teammates scored three more runs to pad their lead to 6-2.
Wang yielded a run in the sixth on a double and two groundouts and was pulled in the seventh after giving up a one-out RBI double to Edgar Renteria.
However, relievers Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen shut down the Reds the rest of the way to preserve the victory.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson appeared more confident in Wang based on the pitcher’s last two starts.
“He is getting the ball a little bit up, but sometimes you don’t make perfect pitches,” he was quoted as saying by blogger Byron Kerr.
“He [Wang] threw a lot of great pitches. He actually threw more breaking balls tonight. I was really pleased with his effort,” Johnson said.
Though he clinched his first home victory of the season, Wang saw his ERA rise from 3.60 to 4.22.