Steve Lombardozzi started at second base tonight in Nationals Park after Anthony Rendon's strong game today in the first of two with the NL East leaders, and Lombardozzi came through early with an RBI hit in his first at bat. Bryce Harper singled to start the home-half of the second inning, then stole second base on Atlanta's starter Freddy Garcia and the Braves' backup backstop Gerald Laird. After Adam LaRoche walked with one down, Lombardozzi's line drive to right brought Harper around to make it 1-0 Washington early in the nightcap of the Nationals' doubleheader in the nation's capital.
In his third start and 12th appearance of the season at the major league level, 26-year-old right-hander Tanner Roark needed 57 pitches to complete three scoreless frames against the Braves. Then he picked up a bat and singled to start the Nationals' half of the third inning. Roark got forced out at second on a Denard Span grounder, but Andrelton Simmons made an ill-advised, late throw trying for the double play and Span took second as the ball went into foul territory in right, then third as Dan Uggla picked it up and dropped it, and Span kept running, waved around by Trent Jewett, only to get tagged out at home for a 3-6, E6, 4-3-2 DP. Yeah. Ryan Zimmerman singled. Jayson Werth walked. But Bryce Harper K'd to end the bottom of the third.
A 12-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth had Roark up to 69 pitches after four scoreless against the Braves. Ian Desmond ripped a line drive by third in the first at bat of the Nats' fourth inning, then moved into scoring position one out later when Steve Lombardozzi's second hit of the night fell into short left for a one-out single, but a double play grounder off Jhonatan Solano's bat got Freddy Garcia through four down by just one run. 1-0 Nats.
Dan Uggla chased a 1-2 curve outside for out no.1 of the fifth and Tanner Roark's fifth K. A groundout to short by Braves' shortstop Andrelton Simmons and a groundout to second by the opposing pitcher ended a quick, eight-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that had Tanner Roark up to 77 pitches overall after five scoreless. Still 1-0 Nationals. Denard Span was 1 for 3 tonight and he had a 28-game hit streak going after singling with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Span stole his 18th base of the year one out later, but was stranded at second when Jayson Werth flew to center to end the inning.
Tanner Roark's sixth ended after 14 pitches when Freddie Freeman chased a 2-2 change in the dirt for out no.3 of a 1-2-3 inning that had the right-hander up to 91 pitches overall. An eight-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth had Freddy Garcia up to 76 pitches. Roark got one out with one pitch to Evan Gattis in the seventh when Gattis flew out to left to start the frame. Chris Johnson popped up to the infield. Gerald Laird flew to left and Roark had seven scoreless in the books on 101 pitches after a 10-pitch frame.
• Tanner Roark's Line: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 101 P, 67 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Craig Stammen took over in the bottom of the eighth after Freddy Garcia threw a quick, 1-2-3 top of the inning. Elliot Johnson singled to center with two down, but Jordan Schafer K'd swinging to end an 18-pitch inning, after which it was still 1-0 Nats. One out into the Nationals' eighth, Ryan Zimmerman got hold of a 1-1 fastball from Braves' right-hander Jordan Walden and hit a blast out to right-center for a solo home run and a 2-0 lead. No. 25 of 2013 for Zimmerman. Bryce Harper singled in the next at bat and scored from first on Ian Desmond's 25th double of 2013. 3-0 Nats. Desmond scored from second on Adam LaRoche's line drive to center and it was 4-0 Nationals after eight.
Rafael Soriano came on in a non-save situation. Justin Upton singled to start the frame. Freddie Freeman lined a single to left. Evan Gattis got sawed off and lined out to Ryan Zimmerman, who doubled up Upton. 5-4 DP. Chris Johnson? Grounder to short... E:6. Ian Desmond's throw pulled Adam LaRoche off the bag. Gerald Laird stepped in with two down and grounded back to the mound. BALLGAME!! Go clinch somewhere else!!!! 4-0 final.
Nationals now 81-70