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Rangers 2-0 over Nationals: Yu Darvish Ks 12 in 8.0 scoreless in Nats Park

The Washington Nationals knew they would have to beat Yu Darvish if they wanted to sweep the Texas Rangers this afternoon, and they knew it would be tough. Darvish lived up to the hype in his first start in D.C. and the Ranger won, 2-0 to avoid being swept.

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Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Senators vs Nationals Series Finale Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: The Washington Nationals were looking for a sweep of their three-game Interleague set with the Texas Rangers in this afternoon's series finale in Nationals Park, but to win it they were going to have to beat right-hander Yu Darvish, who brought his dominant stuff to the mound in D.C. Tanner Roark started slow, but picked things up and went toe-to-toe with Darvish in the nation's capital.

Rangers' center fielder Leonys Martin broke up the scoreless tie with a home run to right on an 0-1 change from Roark in the top of the seventh, sending a fly ball into the Nationals' bullpen to make it 1-0.

Rangers' left fielder Daniel Robertson singled off Drew Storen to start the eighth and then two outs later, after the Nationals walked Adrian Beltre to get to Donnie Murphy, Murphy made them pay with an RBI single to center that made it 2-0 in the 8th.

That's how it ended. 2-0 Rangers. Texas avoids the sweep.

4. Roark vs the Rangers: The Texas Rangers selected right-hander Tanner Roark out of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the 25th Round of the 2008 Draft.

Two years later, the Rangers traded Roark and right-handed starter Ryan Tatusko to the Washington Nationals in a July 2010 deal that sent shortstop Cristian Guzman to Texas.

Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo referred to the trade in a recent MLB Network Radio interview as a "low-level" trade that paid off in large part because of the Nats' player development personnel.

"Tanner Roark is an extremely good story for scouting and player development," Rizzo explained. "Our professional scouts, Jay Robertson in particular, and our scouting department identified him in a trade that we made a while back. It was a low-level trade with Cristian Guzman and we got ourselves two good arms that we really liked and player development has really allowed this kid to step to the next level."

Rizzo said it was Roark's command that eventually set him apart from other prospects in the organization and allowed him to work his way up to the majors.

"He can run it up to 94-95 if he has to. He pitches at 90-92, 93 with his sinker, but his command has really separated him from the pack in our organization..." - Rizzo on Roark on MLB Network Radio

"He's a very confident pitcher on the mound," the Nats' GM said. "He's got four good pitches. He's not a soft-tossing, command-only guy. He can run it up to 94-95 if he has to. He pitches at 90-92, 93 with his sinker, but his command has really separated him from the pack in our organization and he's a guy that can really pitch to four quadrants of the plate with four pitches and on any given day can really go out there and handcuff some good-hitting ballclubs."

Roark held most of the Miami Marlins in check last time out, but Giancarlo Stanton took the Nationals' right-hander deep in the third inning for what was actually the first home run by a right-handed hitter in 238 plate appearances since Roark made his MLB debut last August.

The three earned runs Roark allowed last time out in the loss the Marlins in nation's capital, left him with a (5-2) record, a 1.19 ERA, 2.81 FIP, 15 walks (2.55 BB/9) and 37 Ks (6.28 K/9) in 12 games, six starts and 53 IP in Nationals Park in his major league career, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .184/.249/.243 line.

Roark's first outing against the team that drafted and then traded him began with a groundout to first base...

1st: Daniel Robertson rolled one out to first that Nats' first baseman Adam LaRoche handled for the first out of the series finale with the Rangers. Danny Espinosa's effort was impressive, but he wasn't able to throw Elvis Andrus out on a grounder up the middle. Alex Rios was first-pitch swinging in the next at bat, and his pop to center dropped in front of Denard Span, who misplayed the hop. With runners on first and third after Span's first error as a National, Adrian Beltre K'd swinging for out no.2 on a 93 mph 1-2 fastball. Donnie Murphy stepped in with runners on the corners and two down... but Alex Rios broke for second on Roark's 1-2 pitch, only to get thrown out at second, but after Andrus scored. 1-0 Rangers.... Nope. After the call was challenged, it was ruled that Rios was out at second before Andrus scored. 0-0 after a 17-pitch first by Roark.

2nd: Donnie Murphy lined to 2-0 fastball to left for a leadoff single in the Rangers' second. Leonys Martin popped to third for out no.1. Chris Gimenez K'd looking at a 2-2 fastball for out no.2. Luis Sardinas stepped in with two down and worked a two-out walk in front of Yu Darvish, who grounded out to short to end a 25-pitch frame by Roark, who was up to 42 total after two scoreless.

3rd: Daniel Robertson grounded out to short to start the Rangers' third, but Elvis Andrus lined an 0-2 slider back up the middle for a one-out single. Alex Rios grounded into a 5-4-3 DP in the next at bat, however, and Roark was through three scoreless on 49 pitches after a seven-pitch frame.

4th: Adrian Beltre flew to short left for out no.1. Donnie Murphy tested Ian Desmond's backhand on a grounder to short. Desmond passed the test. Two down. A 1-2 curve got Leonys Martin swinging to end a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. 63 pitches total after four scoreless innings pitched.

5th: Chris Gimenez grounded out to third to start the Rangers' fifth. Luis Sardinas grounded to short for out no.2 and Roark's seventh ground ball out. Yu Darvish's fly to left ended an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. 71 pitches total after five scoreless.

6th: Danny Espinosa showed off his range getting to a grounder off Daniel Robertson's bat, popping up and throwing to first after sliding for it to get the first out of the Rangers' sixth. Anthony Rendon showed off his arm on a high chopper to third off Elvis Andrus' bat, throwing a strike across the infield to beat Andrus to the bag. Alex Rios managed to get a two-out grounder through the left side for a single. Adrian Beltre stepped in with a runner on. Rios stole second ahead of a throw from Ramos, but Beltre's groundout to second ended a 14-pitch frame. 85 pitches total for Roark.

7th: Donnie Murphy took an 0-1 fastball back up the middle for a leadoff single in the top of the seventh, but he was caught trying to take second when Leonys Martin failed to make contact on a hit-and-run attempt. Martin made contact with the next pitch, however, sending a solo home run out to right field that just cleared the fence and was caught by a Nats' reliever. 1-0 Rangers. Chris Gimenez grounded out to short for out no.2 and Roark's 11th groundout. Luis Sardinas walked with two down, but Darvish K'd looking to end the seventh. 19-pitch frame. 104 pitches total.

Tanner Roark's Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 104 P, 67 S, 11/2 GO/FO.

3. Nats vs Darvish: In order to earn a sweep of their three-game set of the Texas Rangers, the Nationals were going to have to beat 29-year-old right-hander Yu Darvish, which Nationals' skipper Matt Williams admitted after Saturday's game was a tough task.

"We have a chance," he said. "Pretty tough pitcher against us tomorrow, so we'll have to continue to do what we've done in the last couple of days against a really tough guy."

Darvish, the "tough guy" Williams referred to, missed his last start when he was scratched with neck stiffness, but he put up a 2.10 ERA and a 2.40 FIP in four starts and 30 IP in May in which he walked nine (2.70 BB/9) and struck out 38 (11.40 K/9), while holding opposing hitters to a .185/.254/.296 line.

On the year, the right-hander was (4-2) with a 2.35 ERA, a 2.42 FIP, 19 walks (2.79 BB/9) and 71 Ks (10.42 K/9) in nine starts and 61 1/3 IP before today, over which he held opposing hitters to a .215/.280/.316 line.

Darvish's first start in the nation's capital began with Nats' leadoff man Denard Span lining a 91 mph fastball to right for a ground-rule double. Two outs later, Span was standing on third after a groundout by Anthony Rendon and a pop to short right off of Jayson Werth's bat. Adam LaRoche took a two-out walk, but Wilson Ramos took a front door 1-2 slider for a called strike three that ended a 17-pitch bottom of the first inning.

Darvish struck out the side in the second, giving him four straight Ks, three of them looking. His 13-pitch second left him at 30 overall after two.

Tanner Roark went down swinging at a 94 mph 0-2 fastball for the fifth straight K for Darvish. Denard Span was 2 for 2 today and 5 for 6 career vs Darvish after he lined a 1-2 curve to right for a one-out single. Anthony Rendon flew to center for the second out of the frame, and Jayson Werth went down swinging at a 1-2 cutter outside. 6 Ks, 45 pitches after a 15-pitch frame.

Adam LaRoche watched a 59 mph 0-2 curve drop in for a called strike three. K no.7. Wilson Ramos singled to center on a 93 mph 2-1 heater. Ian Demsond was K victim no.8 for Darvish when he failed to check his swing on an 81 mph 1-2 slider. Nate McLouth's fly to center ended a 13-pitch frame that left Darvish at 58 pitches.

An 80 mph 1-2 slider got Danny Espinosa swinging for out no.1 of the fifth and K no.9 for Darvish. A 79 mph 1-2 slider got Tanner Roark swinging for out no.2 and K no.10. Denard Span flew to left for out no.3 and Darvish was through five scoreless on 67 pitches after a nine-pitch frame.

Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche hit back-to-back one-out singles in the bottom of the sixth, with Werth sending a grounder through short and then going first-to-third™ on LaRoche's pop to short left-center as it fell in over Elvis Andrus' head. Wilson Ramos stepped in against Darvish with Werth 90 ft from home and went down chasing a 1-2 cutter down in the zone away. 11 Ks. Ian Desmond flew out to deep right to end the sixth. The 14-pitch frame left Darvish at 81 pitches total after six innings. Still 0-0 at that point.

Given a 1-0 lead to work with, Darvish retired the first two batters he faced in the seventh before issuing a two-out walk to pinch hitter Greg Dobbs. Denard Span's pop to third ended Darvish's seventh scoreless inning after 13 pitches. 94 pitches total after seven.

Darvish came back out for the eighth with a 2-0 lead. An 0-2 slider got Anthony Rendon swinging for K no.12. Jayson Werth grounded out to short for out no.2. Adam LaRoche's fly to center ended a six-pitch frame that left Darvish at 102 pitches total on the day.

• Yu Darvish's Line: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 Ks, 104 P, 67 S, 2/4 GO/FO.

• Random In-Game Tweet:

2. Challenge vs Challenge: Top of the first. Runners on first and third, two out. Nationals' backstop Wilson Ramos didn't look Rangers' shortstop Elvis Andrus back to third base when he threw to second trying to cut Alex Rios down when Rios ran from first on a 1-2 pitch from Tanner Roark to Donnie Murphy.

Andrus scored easily on the play, trotting in from third, but he was apparently trotting too slowly, because Rios was ruled out at second when his foot came off the bag and Danny Espinosa applied the tag. When they looked at the replay, Rios was out long before Andrus made his way across the plate, so what looked like a first-inning run was erased after the Nationals won the challenge.

1. The Wrap-Up: Drew Storen gave up a leadoff single by Daniel Roberston in the eighth after taking over for Tanner Roark on the mound. Elvis Andrus got a two-strike sac bunt down to move Robertson into scoring position and after the Nats walked Adrian Beltre intentionally with two down, Donnie Murphy made them pay with an RBI single to center that made it 2-0 Rangers. That was it for Storen, who gave up a run for the first time in nine appearances.

Jerry Blevins came on to face Leonys Martin and got a fly to left to end the top of the eighth.

Rafael Soriano stranded two runners in a scoreless ninth to keep it close.

Rangers' closer Joakim Soria got a groundout to short from Wilson Ramos with the first pitch he threw. Ian Desmond K'd swinging over a 75 mph 2-2 bender. Nate McLouth's swinging K ended the game.

Final score, 2-0 Rangers.

Nationals now 27-28