CBP Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: Washington Nationals' right-hander Tanner Roark, 27, entered tonight's game in Philadelphia, PA's Citizens Bank Park with a streak of 18 scoreless innings going which stretched back through his complete game shutout of the San Diego Padres last time out in D.C. and the 6 2/3 scoreless he threw against the Los Angeles Angels on April 21st to the fourth inning of his April 16th outing against the Marlins in Miami's Marlins Park.
That streak ended in the first inning when Phillies' first baseman Ryan Howard took a 92 mph 0-1 fastball out the other way for a three-run home run to left field that put the Nationals behind early yet again.
Third baseman Cody Asche's solo home run off Roark in the second gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead early in the second game of three for the Nats in CBP.
The Phillies took a 5-0 lead in the fourth when catcher Carlos Ruiz took a 1-0 fastball to left-center for the second of two back-to-back doubles, scoring Domonic Brown from second after the Phillies' outfielder flew to right-center for his own two-base hit.
Tanner Roark left the mound after giving up back-to-back singles in the bottom of the fifth and Ryan Mattheus loaded the bases with a walk to the first batter he faced. Marlon Byrd took a 1-2 sinker to left one out later and drove in two runs with a single to left field that made it 7-0 Phillies after five.
Adam LaRoche was 2 for 2 tonight after taking A.J. Burnett deep to right field, breaking the Phillies' starter's shutout bid up with a solo blast in the top of the sixth. 7-1 Phillies.
Zach Walters chipped away at the Phillies' lead with a solo home run to left off Phillies' reliever Mario Hollands. Walters' third home run of the year made it 7-2 Philadelphia.
4. The Myth of Row-ark: Tanner Roark's complete game shutout last time out in the nation's capital was just the second complete game for the 27-year-old as a professional. Roark went nine innings once before, with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs in 2012, during a season he finished (6-17) with a 4.39 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 47 walks (2.86 BB/9) and 130 Ks (7.92 K/9) in 28 games, 26 starts and 147 2/3 IP. Roark told reporters this winter that the 2012 campaign was when he finally turned things around as a starter and began to figure things out.
"I wasn't doing so well," he explained. "I wasn't doing too hot and I just got over it mentally. That was the biggest thing. I knew I had the tools, I just needed to get out of my own head and that's what helped me come up here and be able to do what I'm doing right now and keep doing what I'm doing, hopefully for a long time."
Roark started the 2013 season with 33 outings, 11 of them starts at Triple-A in which he was (9-3) with a 3.15 ERA, 3.01 FIP, 20 walks (1.70 BB/9) and 84 Ks (7.15 K/9) in 105 2/3 IP. He debuted in the majors in August and made 14 appearances, five as a starter, in which he was (7-1) with a 1.51 ERA, 2.41 FIP, 22 walks (1.84 BB/9) and 40 Ks (6.71 K/9) in 53 2/3 IP.
After his complete game shutout against the Padres, Roark was (2-0) so far this season with a 2.76 ERA, 3.43 FIP, nine walks (2.48 BB/9) and 26 Ks (7.16 K/9) in 32 2/3 IP before tonight.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams was effusive in his praise for Roark after that last start in Nationals Park and he talked with reporters about what he's seen from the right-hander all season. "I think he competes and I think he's got the ability, certainly, to pitch at this level," Williams said. "And he's got four quality pitches that he throws. All of them for strikes. He can hit. He can bunt. He does well out there. Has the ability to change speeds really well."
Roark was making his first career start and just his second appearance against the Phillies tonight in Citizens Bank Park after throwing two scoreless innings in relief against the Nats' NL East rivals last season...
1st: Tony Gwynn, Jr. took a 1-2 fastball to right field for out no.1 of the Phillies' first. Jimmy Rollins took a 90 mph 2-1 fastball to right for a one-out single off Roark, then stole second with Chase Utley at the plate. Roark walked Utley to put two on with one out in front of Ryan Howard, who took a 92 mph 0-1 fastball to left field and into the stands for an opposite field blast that made it 3-0 Philadelphia. Marlon Byrd battled for seven pitches before he struck out looking at a 2-2 heater. Domonic Brown's fly to center ended the bottom of the first after 25 pitches by Roark.
2nd: Carlos Ruiz grounded weakly to second base to start the home-half of the second inning, but third baseman Cody Asche took a full-count fastball to right in the next at bat for the second home run of the game and a 4-0 Phillies' lead. Roark got the opposing pitcher looking for out no.2. Anthony Rendon charged and barehanded a swinging bunt by Tony Gwynn, Jr. and threw to first to end a 22-pitch second that had Roark up to 47 pitches after two.
WATCH: Anthony Rendon is pretty good at this defense thing, eh? http://t.co/zGOQVczgst— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) May 4, 2014
3rd: Jimmy Rollins grounded out to first on a hanging curve. Adam LaRoche took care of a grounder from Chase Utley for out no.2. Roark took care of Ryan Howard, striking the Phillies' slugger out to end an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning that left him at 58 pitches overall after three.
4th: Marlon Byrd K'd swinging at a 1-2 fastball. Domonic Brown hit a 2-2 change into the right-center gap for a one-out double and scored when Carlos Ruiz lined a 1-0 fastball to left-center for an RBI double that made it 5-0 Phillies. Roark struck Cody Asche out with a full-count changeup outside and A.J. Burnett grounded to short to end a 21-pitch inning by Roark, who was up to 79 total after four.
5th: Tony Gwynn, Jr. golfed the first pitch of the Phillies' fifth out to right for a line drive single. Another single by Jimmy Rollins ended Roark's night. Ryan Mattheus took over and walked Chase Utley to load the bases for Ryan Howard, who K'd swinging at an 0-2 change. Marlon Byrd got hold of a 1-2 splitter, however, and drove to runs in with a single through the left side of the infield. 7-0 Phillies.
Tanner Roark's Line: 4.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HR, 85 P, 52 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
3. Comeback Kids: The Nationals rallied from an early deficit for the ninth time this season in the series opener with the Phillies last night. As Nats' skipper Matt Williams has explained previously though, it's not something they want to be doing every night, but so far they've shown a willingness to keep fighting when they fall behind.
"They just keep trying," Williams said. "It's easy to put it into cruise if you're behind and say, 'Oh well it's not our night.' But they don't do that. They fight. That's a very good sign. Coming back is a trait that I think they have. It's certainly not ideal, we don't want that, but if we have to do it then that's the position we're in and they fight about it, they keep going."
The ability to do so and win some games you seem out of early is what leads to big seasons, right?
"There's probably some that you're not supposed to win that you do win that contribute to a year like that," Williams said, "but we're not looking beyond tomorrow and tonight's a good win for us coming from behind and we have to play well again tomorrow."
Ryan Howard's three-run home run in the first guaranteed that they would have to do it again tonight if they were going to win. Cody Asche added to that lead with a solo blast in the Phillies' second, 4-0. By the time it was 7-0, it was starting to look like tonight was going to be one of the games where a comeback doesn't happen...
2. A.J.: 37-year-old Phillies' starter A.J. Burnett was (1-0) with a 1.29 ERA, two walks (1.29 BB/9) and 14 Ks (9.00 K/9) in two starts and 14 IP against the Nationals last season when he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He held the Nationals' hitters to a .255/.305/.291 line last season and was coming off a strong outing against the D-Backs last time out which saw the right-hander throw eight scoreless innings on the road in Arizona.
In his career before tonight, the right-handed veteran of 16 major league seasons was (8-3) with a 3.08 ERA against the Expos/Nationals.
Burnett walked the first two batters in the second after scoreless, 1-2-3 first, then struck two batters out looking with break-back sinkers inside and Jose Lobaton swinging with a 2-2 knuckle curve that ended a 24-pitch second.
Adam LaRoche doubled to right on a 1-1 sinker with one down in the fourth for the Nationals' first hit off Burnett, and Cody Asche bobbled a weak roller toward third off Ian Desmond's bat to put two on with one out for Danny Espinosa. Burnett got Espinosa swinging with a 1-2 curve inside for out no.2 and popped Nate McLouth up to end his fourth scoreless frame.
Adam LaRoche's second hit of the night off Burnett was a towering blast to right that cleared the fence and stayed fair to break up the Phillies' starter's shutout, 7-1.
1. The Wrap-Up: Tanner Roark was out early. A.J. Burnett cruised through six, giving up just three hits, two of them by Adam LaRoche. With the score 7-1 after six, rain delayed the game for ... jut about 20 minutes. Left-hander Mario Hollands took over on the mound once play resumed. Zach Walters lined a 2-0 fastball inside out to left field for a solo home run that cut the Phillies' lead to five.
Craig Stammen gave up a long double to center by Marlon Byrd, but completed a scoreless bottom of the seventh.
Mike Adams took the mound for the Phillies in the eighth and completed a scoreless frame.
Stammen worked into and out of trouble in the bottom of the inning, but the Nationals couldn't come back in the ninth against left-hander Antonio Bastardo. Final score, 7-2 Phillies.
Nationals now 17-13