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Nationals 6-2 over Giants for three straight wins in AT&T Park: Tanner Roark keeps rolling

Washington Nationals' starter Tanner Roark took the mound for the bottom of the first with a 3-0 lead and put together another strong start tonight in the Nats' 6-2 win over the San Francisco Giants. Three straight wins for the Nationals in AT&T.

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

McCovey Cove Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Matt Cain issued back-to-back-to-back walks to the first three Washington Nationals' batters he faced tonight in the third game of the four-game set in AT&T Park and the San Francisco Giants, who dropped the first two games of the series, trailed 2-0 early after Adam LaRoche's two-run single to center and 3-0 after Ryan Zimmerman brought in another run with a groundout.

Buster Posey singled to start the Giants' fourth and scored one out later when shortstop Brandon Crawford tripled to left-center on a 2-0 fastball from Nats' starter Tanner Roark. 3-1 Nationals.

Jayson Werth battled Matt Cain for eight pitches and got hold of a 2-2 slider up in the zone, sending HR no.6 out to left and into the first row above the outfield wall. 4-1 Nationals on Werth's sixth home run of 2014.

The Nationals loaded the bases with two down in the top of the ninth and Jayson Werth came through with a two-out single to center that made it 6-2 Nats. That's how it ended.

4. Mighty Roark: Tanner Roark struck out a career-high 11 batters last time out on the mound in San Diego, CA's Petco Park. In eight scoreless innings in the Nationals' 6-0 win, Washington's 27-year-old right-hander allowed just three hits. He also induced 10 ground ball outs from the 29 batters he faced. It was the second strong outing of the year for Roark against the Padres, who were shut down for nine innings in Roarks' first careeer complete game shutout on April 26th in the nation's capital.

San Diego's skipper was impressed with each start by the Nats' righty, though he said Roark took a different approach in each outing.

"Mix of pitches, chance of speeds. Commanded his fastball. That was the thing today I thought [was] a little bit different than the start in Washington." -Padres' skipper Bud Black after seeing Roark for the second time in 2014

"Same thing he showed over in Washington," Padres' manager Bud Black told reporters after the Nats' 6-0 win last Friday night. "Mix of pitches, chance of speeds. Commanded his fastball. That was the thing today I thought [was] a little bit different than the start in Washington. [In] Washington, [he] used more curveballs, more changeups. I thought today, more use of the fastballs, better spots, and movement to the fastball as well."

"Two-seamer and changeup and not a lot curveballs tonight," Williams explained in his own post game interview, echoing Black's comments.

"He used [the curve] a couple of times, he got one strikeout on it I think, but mostly fastball/changeup. Both sides of the plate. He's really effective when he can do that."

"Mostly fastball/changeup. Both sides of the plate. He's really effective when he can do that." -Matt Williams on Roark vs the Padres

Roark struggled in two starts this season, giving up six hits and five runs in 4 2/3 IP against the Braves on April 11 and seven hits and seven runs in 4 IP in a May 3rd start against the Phillies, but outside of those two outings he's been solid throughout the first two months+ of his second major league season.

In his last six starts following the abbreviated outing in Philadelphia, the right-hander has put up a 1.77 ERA with eight walks (1.77 BB/9) and 30 Ks (6.64 K/9) in 40 2/3 IP, over which he's held opposing hitters to a .184/.231/.293 line.

"He's been pitching like that for us all year," Williams said once Roark was done with the Padres.

"You look at it, I saw a stat today, that will make nine quality starts for us this year. That's really good. So, just continues to pound the zone. All of his pitches. Pretty impressive."

Through 12 starts this season, Roark was (4-4) with a 2.91 ERA, a 3.53 FIP, 18 walks (2.09 BB/9) and 61 Ks (7.10 K/9) in 77 1/3 IP before tonight.

Roark took the mound in AT&T Park for the first time in his career with a 3-0 lead after Matt Cain struggled with his command in a 36-pitch first...

1st: Angel Pagan grounded weakly back to the mound for out no.1. Hunter Pence quit on a 1-2 two-seamer outside and watched it break back in for a called strike three and out no.2. Buster Posey's grounder to the mound ended a 11-pitch, 1-2-3 first for Tanner Roark.

2nd: Michael Morse singled to center on a 1-1 slider from Roark. Brandon Crawford flew to center for the first out of the inning. Brandon Hicks fell behind 0-2 quickly and took a 1-2 slider outside for a called strike three. Giants' left fielder Gregor Blanco popped out to third for out no.3, ending a 10-pitch frame for Roark, who was up to 21 pitches total after two.

3rd: Joaquin Arias singled to center on a 2-1 heater from Roark. Matt Cain tried to bunt the runner over and popped up to Roark. Angel Pagan flew to left for out no.2. Hunter Pence pushed Jayson Werth back to the track with a fly to deep right, but Werth made the catch to end a 14-pitch inning. 35 total after three.

4th: Buster Posey lined a single to center that dropped in for a hit in front of a sliding Denard Span. Michael Morse stepped in with a runner on and went down swinging at a 93 mph 2-2 four-seamer inside. Brandon Crawford started up 2-0 and lined 92 mph fastball to the left-center gap for an RBI triple that got the Giants on the board, 3-1. Brandon Hicks K'd looking at a 94 mph 1-2 fastball for out no.2 and K no.4 for Roark. Gregor Blanco's groundout to a sliding Danny Espinosa at second ended a 20-pitch frame after which Roark was up to 55 pitches.

5th: Joaquin Arias grounded out to short. Tyler Colvin flew out to Denard Span in CF. Angel Pagan flew out to Ryan Zimmerman in left to end a 15-pitch fifth. 70 pitches total after five.

6th: Hunter Pence flew to left field on a first-pitch slider for out no.1 of the Giants' sixth. Buster Posey flew to short right where Jayson Werth made a charging, sliding catch. Michael Morse lined a two-out hit to left and beat a relayed throw in from from Ryan Zimmerman to Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa. Double. Brandon Crawford stepped in with a runner on second and two down worked the count full before lining to left field... where Ryan Zimmerman made a diving, inning-ending catch. 18-pitch frame, 88 pitches overall for Tanner Roark.

7th: Brandon Hicks bunted his way on in the bottom of the seventh. Gregor Blanco worked the count full and singled through the right side to bring the tying run to the plate. That was it for Roark, who was replaced on the mound by Drew Storen...

• Tanner Roark's Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 95 P, 61 S, 4/5 GO/FO.

3. Cain vs D.C.: With a win over the Washington Nationals in the nation's capital last May in which he gave up four hits and two runs in seven innings of work, 29-year-old San Francisco Giants' '02 1st Round pick Matt Cain improved to (5-4) with a 3.12 ERA, 24 walks (2.42 BB/9) and 78 Ks (7.86 K/9) in 13 starts and 89 1/3 IP, over which the right-hander has held Nats' hitters to a combined .234/.288/.366 line. Cain made just nine starts this season before tonight's, missing time with a cut finger and a hamstring strain.

In his first start off the DL last Friday night, Cain held the New York Mets to three hits and two earned runs in seven innings of work in AT&T Park. He received no decision in what ended up a 4-2 Giants' win. So far this season, he was (1-1) in three starts at home in San Francisco with a 2.91 ERA, 4.18 FIP, seven walks (2.91 BB/9) and 18 Ks (7.48 K/9) in 21 2/3 IP before tonight, over which opposing hitters put a .173/.241/.373 line against him.

In his ten major league seasons and 141 career starts before this evening's, Cain was (52-47) in the Giants' home with a 3.15 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 313 walks (3.03 BB/9) and 764 Ks (7.39 K/9) in 931 IP in which he's held visiting hitters to a .215/.286/.351 line.

His 142nd career start in San Francisco began with back-to-back-to-back walks to Denard Span, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth which were followed by an RBI single to center by Adam LaRoche that brought two runs in to make it 2-0 Nats early. A groundout to the mound by Ryan Zimmerman brought Werth in and it was 3-0 Nats early in the third game of the Nationals' four-game set in AT&T Park. Cain's rough first finally ended after 36 pitches, 15 of them strikes.

Cain bounced back from his rough first with a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 second.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a two-out double to center on a 92 mph 3-2 fastball, but Ian Desmond took a called strike three to end a 22-pitch frame after which Cain was up to 67 pitches.

Jose Lobaton took the fifth walk of the night from Matt Cain with one down in the top of the fourth inning, but he was stranded at second two outs later at the end of a 16-pitch inning by Cain, that left the Giants' right-hander at 83 pitches total after four.

Jayson Werth battled Cain for eight pitches in a one-out at bat in the fifth that ended on a 2-2 slider that Werth put into the first row in left field for a solo home run and a 4-1 Nats' lead. A 19-pitch inning left Cain at 102 pitches total after five.

• Werth HR gif courtesy of B Sheridan (@md_dc on Twitter):

Matt Cain's Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 102 P, 59 S, 6/4 GO/FO.

2. Pivotal Moments: Giants' right-hander Matt Cain's first inning struggles pretty much decided this game in the top of the first inning. The 36-pitch, 15-strike, four-walk, three-run frame gave the Nationals a 3-0 lead early in the third game of Washington's four-game visit to AT&T Park. Three straight walks loaded the bases with no one out and the Nats put three runs up before tonight's starter, Tanner Roark ever took the mound.

Tanner Roark gave up a run on a Brandon Crawford triple in the fourth, but with the runner on third and one down, the Nats' starter got a called strike three with a 1-2 fastball to Brandon Hicks. Gregor Blanco hit a sharp grounder to second with two down, but Danny Espinosa made a sliding play and strong, quick throw to get the final out of the inning. 3-1 after four.

Nats' right-hander Drew Storen inherited a two on, no-out jam when he took over for Tanner Roark in the bottom of the seventh, but he got a double play grounder out of Joaquin Arias for the first two outs of the inning. Storen gave up a run, but limited the damage.

1. The Wrap-Up: George Kontos took over for Matt Cain in the top of the sixth inning and gave up an infield single by Ian Desmond, who stole second base (SB no.5) but was stranded there. Kontos completed a 1-2-3 top of the seventh to keep the game close.

Drew Storen took over for Tanner Roark with two on and no one out in the bottom of the seventh and got a grounder to short out of Joaquin Arias that started a 6-4-3 DP for the first two outs of the frame, but pinch hitter Pablo Sandoval came through with a two-out single to drive Brandon Crawford in from third after the Giants' shortstop singled off Roark to start the frame. 4-2 game. Angel Pagan popped to short left and Ryan Zimmerman caught out no.3.

Tyler Clippard set Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Michael Morse down in order in a 17-pitch frame which included an epic eight pitch battle with Michael Morse that ended with a popout to short.

Yusmeiro Petit gave up a one-out single by Jose Lobaton and back-to-back, two-out walks to Denard Span and Anthony Rendon to bring Jayson Werth up with the bases loaded. Werth's two-run single to center made it 6-2 Nationals after eight and a half.

Jerry Blevins came out for the bottom of the ninth and retired the Giants in order to end it.

Nationals now 35-29