The Nationals provided no run support for Stephen Strasburg in the six innings the 25-year-old right-hander was on the mound in Sunday's series finale with St. Louis opposite 23-year-old righty Shelby Miller, though the Nats did rally to beat the Cardinals, 3-2, when they got to the Cards' bullpen. Strasburg was asked after the game about pitching while knowing he had to limit the Cardinals since the offense wasn't taking advantage of their opportunities.
"The good thing is that we're getting baserunners," Strasburg said. "And it's just one of those games where we couldn't get them in, but getting guys on base and it's all going to work itself out."
Tonight in D.C., in the first game of three with Los Angeles (AL), it was Tanner Roark on the hill for the Nats against 26-year-old Angels' '09 1st Round pick Garrett Richards. Richards was effectively wild through six innings in which he walked four, struck out six and allowed just one hit and one earned run on a bases-loaded groundout by Adam LaRoche in the fourth.
Richards loaded the bases in the fourth with back-to-back walks to Bryce Harper and Denard Span and a HBP on Jayson Werth, who mouthed something unfriendly to the pitcher on his way to first base. When Werth was forced out at second on LaRoche's grounder to Howie Kendrick in the next at bat, the Nats' veteran outfielder went in late, wide and hard on a not-impressed Erick Aybar to break up any shot at a double play.
A run scored when LaRoche grounded into a force, with Span coming in from third, but a throw home for an out on a grounder to first by Anthony Rendon and a groundout to second by Ian Desmond ended the bases-loaded, no-out threat with the score 1-0.
"It goes like that in baseball sometimes," Matt Williams told reporters after the Angels came back to win 4-2 on Monday.
"But again," Williams said, "we're in position, we get through the seventh and we have our guys lined up in the pen. We'll take those opportunities every day. It didn't work tonight, but we'll take them every day."
"Scoring," Roark said in his own post game interview, "it happens sometimes, and it doesn't happen as often as you would like it to. But tonight was a pitching duel and unfortunately we came out on the bottom. But, we've got [two] games ahead of us, and we can go right after them right there and win the series."
"He pitched well," Williams said of Roark's effort. "He continues to throw all of his pitches for strikes and compete. So, he pitched really well."
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When he was done with his 6 ⅔ scoreless innings of work, Roark's ERA at home in Nats Park stood at 0.35 over 26 IP since his major league debut last season over which he's held opposing hitters to a .149/.219/.164 line.
"It's the same as any other place," the Wilmington, Illinois-born starter said when asked about his success so far in his adopted home, "but you get the fans behind you, it's good motivation."
Roark said his focus, as always, was throwing first pitch strikes and getting ahead in the count. "Just trying to get ahead," he said. "I feel like first pitch strike was a big thing for me tonight -- it's got to be always -- so, sinker was working well tonight. Used that a lot." His fastball was a weapon he threw where he wanted throughout the start.
"Felt really good," Roark said. "Felt very strong up there on the mound and just confident."
Drew Storen got the Nationals through the seventh, but Tyler Clippard struggled in the eighth and gave up the lead as the Angels scored four runs on a game-tying RBI single by Erick Aybar and a three-run double by Raul Ibanez that turned the game around and left Tanner Roark with no decision.
• We talked about Tanner Roark's outing, Clippard's struggles, the Nationals' lack of offense and Trout vs Harper getting overshadowed by the pitching with Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page, Joe Drugan from The Nats Blog and Tom Bridge from We Love DC on last night's edition of Nats Nightly: