CINCINNATI — For moments Sunday, as Josh Rogers tried to carve through the Cincinnati Reds, a road game had familiar sounds for the left-hander. When he walked in from the bullpen, a few minutes before first pitch, Rogers received a standing ovation from the friends and family packed behind the Washington Nationals’ dugout. When he didn’t get a call while facing his fourth batter, fans wearing custom-made shirts — blue with a Nationals logo on the front, “Rogers” and No. 65 on the back — shouted, “Come on, ump!” and, “Let’s go!”

This was Great American Ball Park, a childhood dream, but it also felt like a sunny afternoon at New Albany High in southern Indiana. Or, perhaps, one of Rogers’s starts at the University of Louisville, just across the Ohio River from where he grew up.

Rogers had the ball and the crowd, and that meant he had everything.

“Oh, we’re coming,” Rogers’s dad, Bobby, said during a phone call last week. “And you’re going to hear us.”

That promise was kept in Washington’s 9-2 loss to the Reds. But in the fifth, at the tail end of Rogers’s outing, the top of Cincinnati’s order made the most of its third chance against the 27-year-old. Jonathan India led off with a double over the head of left fielder Yadiel Hernandez. Tyler Stephenson followed with a two-run homer, taking a fastball out to right. Then Nick Castellanos swung at Rogers’s 2-2 change-up, a middle-middle pitch, and rocked a solo shot to put Cincinnati up 3-1.

Three batters later, former Nationals infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera logged his first hit with the Reds, snapping an 0-for-22 streak. Rogers couldn’t finish the inning. He was hooked after issuing a third walk to Delino DeShields, Rogers’s fourth of the game. Five of seven batters reached against him in the fifth. And still, dozens stood and cheered as he walked off the field, hat tipped off his head.

They had cheered his three strikeouts, too. They even cheered when he struck out and grounded out at the plate.

“It was a special day for all those people to see me, and it was special for me getting cheers on the road,” said Rogers, who has a 2.73 ERA in 29⅔ innings with Washington. “Everybody from New Albany, it’s humbling and a surreal feeling when you’re on the road like that and you got the support from the people back at home.”

His results, though, fell well short of personal expectations.

“It was a struggle. It sucks because I felt really good in the bullpen there before the game. Body felt great; arm felt great,” he explained. “And then you get out there, and you lose everything arm-side. ... I just couldn’t find the zone, couldn’t get ahead. I was behind all day.”

The Reds stretched their lead during a disastrous sixth for reliever Ryne Harper. After navigating out of the fifth, Harper yielded a single to pinch hitter TJ Friedl and a double to Stephenson, intentionally walked Castellanos and was on the wrong end of Kyle Farmer’s second-deck grand slam. Farmer got every bit of a hands-high 75-mph slider. Once Harper let the next three batters reach, too — using a single, a single and a walk — he was pulled for lefty Sean Nolin. Harper’s ERA leaped from 3.15 to 4.08 in 35⅓ innings as the Nationals (64-92) fell into a six-run hole.

Farmer’s slam was the 14th against Washington this season, tying a major league record set by the Detroit Tigers in 1996. The Nationals have six games left to break it. On Sunday, their third loss in a row following a three-game winning streak, the offense bowed to Reds starter Tyler Mahle and the bullpen behind him. Mahle completed six innings, allowing just three hits and an unearned run.

It came in the fifth after Carter Kieboom singled and moved up on Rogers’s tapper to second and Lane Thomas hit a grounder that second baseman India booted. Otherwise, Washington scored when Jeff Hoffman loaded the bases in the ninth, including a double for Luis García, then skipped a wild pitch to the backstop.

“Threw a couple good pitches to him before; just didn’t get the swing I wanted. He fouled some off, and I left one up and he took advantage,” Harper said of his matchup with Farmer. “That’s part of pitching in the big leagues. It’s unfortunate, and I wish I could have it back. But, yeah, one pitch will do you. One pitch away is ultimately just not enough.”

Rogers was the bright spot, however dimmed by that trying fifth. All afternoon, he tested luck’s limits, using a second lineout to strand two in the first, then a deep flyball by Mahle to leave two more on in the fourth. He was through four scoreless on 76 pitches, his total juiced by a lack of consistent command. Rogers finished at 102 pitches, 62 of them strikes.

Despite his hiccups, the group from New Albany hung around to see Rogers after the game. He estimated that 300 people made the trip, whether they sat in that one section or elsewhere. Their ride home could have stretched to two hours, depending on traffic, about 100 miles down Interstate 71. But they were in no rush.

“I can’t say enough about them,” said Rogers, who joined the Nationals on a minor league deal in June after recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. “They’ve supported me all the way through, and it’s been pretty cool to have them here.”