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Nationals win ninth straight, 3-2 over D-Backs on Anthony Rendon's walk-off single

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The Washington Nationals led the Arizona Diamondbacks 2-0 after seven before Tyler Clippard gave up a game-tying home run in the eighth. The Nats rallied in the ninth, however, and won their ninth straight on a walk-off single by Anthony Rendon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Build the Row-Ark Myth Top 5:

5. Quick Recap: Ian Desmond went 3 for 4 with four RBIs  in the Washington Nationals' 8-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks last night in the nation's capital and the Nats' 28-year-old shortstop started the scoring tonight as well.

Desmond took a one-out walk from D-Backs' righty Trevor Cahill in the bottom of the second, moved up on a Bryce Harper grounder, stole third with Wilson Ramos up and scored on a fielder's choice force at second off Ramos' bat. 1-0 Nationals after two.

Diamondbacks' starter Trevor Cahill was rolling through five having allowed just the one run in the second, but back-to-back doubles by Asdrubal Cabrera and Jayson Werth started the sixth with Werth's 29th two-base hit of the year driving Cabrera in from second for a 2-0 Nats' lead.

Tyler Clippard took over on the mound for the Nationals in the eighth and gave up a leadoff walk and a two-run home run in the first two at bats as the D-Backs tied things up at 2-2 as soon as Tanner Roark was out of the game. Ender Inciarte's third home run of the season landed in the Nats' bullpen in right.

The Nationals won it in the ninth, with Bryce Harper singling, taking third on a single by Kevin Frandsen and scoring on a walk-off single by Anthony Rendon. 3-2 final in Nationals Park.

4. The Myth of Row-Aark: Start no.24 of 2014 for 27-year-old Washington Nationals' right-hander Tanner Roark lasted just 5 ⅔ innings. Three of the five hits Roark surrendered in the Nats' 5-4 win over the Pirates and all three runs Pittsburgh scored on him came in the top of the fourth inning when the Nats' starter surrendered a one-out double by Neil Walker, a two-run home run by Starling Marte and an RBI double by Pedro Alvarez.

Roark threw a quick, 1-2-3 fifth, but Nationals' manager Matt Williams went to the bullpen after Bucs' outfielder Travis Snider hit a two-out single to right in the sixth on Roark's 107th pitch.

"He was a little off on his command tonight. Ball up in the strike zone a little bit... But he battled." -Matt Williams on Tanner Roark vs the Pirates last time out

"He was a little off on his command tonight," Williams said after the game. "Ball up in the strike zone a little bit. Marte hit a slider for a homer and then the ball just kind of elevated. But he battled. He got through the innings that he needed to get through. Over a hundred [pitches]. He battled that last one and got through it, so he pitched well."

Roark left the game with the Nationals up 5-3, so he earned his 12th curly-W of the season when the Nats held on for the win. Williams was asked what Roark's done in his season-plus in the majors that has led to his success?

"I just think he is aggressive within the strike zone with all of his pitches," the first-year skipper said.

"Tonight he got some big outs on some changeups. He's got a fastball that, as we talked about earlier today, plays a little bit heavier than it looks like, so it jumps on the hitter a little bit. And when he needs to he can reach back for 93 or 94, so that's good. He's got that when he needs it, but he pitches with all of his pitches in the strike zone, and that's [why] he's got a chance every time he goes out there if can do that. Tonight he was a little off, but when he's got it going he can pitch with all of them to both sides of the plate."

Roark said he felt fine in a less-than-stellar outing, but tried to make perfect pitches in some instances and they ended up hurting him.

"I was trying to be too fine with my slider and my curveball today. Everything else I felt, fastball was good, had good life on it, keeping it down." -Tanne Roark on start vs Pirates

"I was trying to be too fine with my slider and my curveball today," he told reporters. "Everything else I felt, fastball was good, had good life on it, keeping it down. Changeup was good. But when I would get 1-2, 0-2, I'd try to be too fine with certain pitches and they're going to take balls that are away in the dirt. So, overall felt good. We got the win, so..."

The 1-0 slider that Marte hit to deep left field was the perfect example of what Roark was describing.

"That's the one that I tried to make perfect and when you try to make pitches perfect, that's what happens, so he crushed it. As soon as I heard it, I knew it was gone. So just get the ball from the umpire and let's go."

The win left Roark (6-5) at home in Nationals Park after 12 starts this season.

The righty has a 2.57 ERA, a 3.68 FIP, 21 walks (2.45 BB/9) and 51 Ks (5.96 K/9) in 77 IP in the nation's capital this season with a .241/.296/.353 line against in D.C.

Tonight, Roark was taking on Arizona for the second time in his career after dropping a decision to the D-Backs in the 162nd game of 162 last season, giving up three hits, a walk and one unearned run in seven innings on the mound in Chase Field.

The second start of his career against Arizona began with pop to left field.

1st: Leadoff man Ender Inciarte popped to left to start the D-Backs' first. Cliff Pennington sent Denard Span spinning back in center, but the Nats' outfielder caught out no.2 after taking an interesting, twisting route to the ball. David Peralta lined a two-out single to right. Mark Trumbo steppded in with a runner on and popped up to first to end an 18-pitch frame for Roark.

2nd: Bryce Harper hustled over to the left field corner to catch a fly ball of Miguel Montero's bat for the first out of the second. Aaron Hill lined out to Ian Desmond at short for out no.2. D-Backs' left fielder Alfredo Marte singled to center on a 1-1 slider from Roark, but Didi Gregorius hit a one-hopper to first in the next at bat that Adam LaRoche handled to end a scoreless, 10-pitch second that left Roark at 28 total after two.

3rd: Trevor Cahill K'd looking. Ender Inciarte singled to center with one down, hitting a 1-2 slider back up the middle of the infield. Cliff Pennington took the first walk of the game from Roark in front of David Peralta. The D-Backs' right fielder stepped in with two on and one out and fell behind 0-2 quickly but worked the count full as Bill Welke called some close pitches balls. A fly to right on a full count fastball ended up in Jayson Werth's glove. Two down. Mark Trumbo grounded toward the hole on the right side, but Adam LaRoche got to it and tossed to Ian Desmond for the force at second. 23-pitch frame, 51 total after three.

4th: Miguel Montero grounded out to second. Aaron Hill lined out to center. Alfredo Marte's grounder to Kevin Frandsen at third ended a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 frame that left Roark at 60 pitches total.

5th: Didi Gregorius sent a fly ball to Bryce Harper in left for the first out of the fifth. Trevor Cahill grounded back to the mound for out no.2 and seven consecutive batters set down by Roark. Ender Inciarte K'd swinging through a 91 mph 2-2 fastball to end another 1-2-3 frame after 15 pitches. 75 total after five.

6th: Cliff Pennington hit an 0-1 change to center off the end of his bat for a single. David Peralta popped to Kevin Frandsen at third for the first out of the inning. Mark Trumbo hit a one-out liner by first that allowed Penning to take third and put runners on the corner with one down for Miguel Montero, who grounded back to the mound to start an inning-ending, 1-6-3. 13-pitch frame, 88 total after six.

7th: Aaron HIll sent a one-hopper to third and Kevin Frandsen sent a one-hopper to first for out no.1 of the D-Backs' seventh. Alfredo Martin lined out to right. Didi Gregorius lined out to center. 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame. 99 total after seven innings.

Tanner Roark's Line: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 99 P, 63 S, 7/5 GO/FO.

3. Cahill on the hill: Shoulder and hip issues led to Trevor Cahill missing over a month in June/July, but the 26-year-old right-hander returned to the mound on July 18th and has made each start since, going (2-2) in six outings with a 3.53 ERA, a 2.88 FIP, eight walks (2.02 BB/9) and 26 Ks (6.56 K/9) in 35 ⅔ IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .261/.313/.363 line, down from a .285/.390/.425 line in 41 ⅓ IP in the first half of the 2014 campaign.

On the road this season before tonight, the D-Backs' righty was (2-3) with a 3.55 ERA (vs 5.52 at home), a 3.53 FIP (vs 3.59 in AZ) and a .272/.353/.371 line in 33 IP away from Chase Field (as opposed to his .275/.359/.415 line in 44 IP in Arizona).

In two starts in Nationals Park before he took the mound in the third game of this week's four-game set in D.C., Cahill was (1-1) with a 5.11 ERA, three walks (2.19 BB/9) and 11 Ks (8.03 K/9) in 12 ⅓ IP over which Nats' hitters put up a combined .292/.327/.396 line.

In three starts total against the Nationals in his career, Cahill was (1-2) with a 5.40 ERA, six walks (2.95 BB/9) and 14 Ks (6.87 K/9) in 18 ⅓ IP in which Nats' hitters put up a .282/.329/.479 line against him.

Cahill walked Asdrubal Cabrera with one down in the first tonight, but a 6-4-3 DP off Jayson Werth's bat ended a quick, 10-pitch bottom of the first.

Ian Desmond walked with one down in the second, and was almost forced out at second on a grounder by Bryce Harper, but Aaron Hill's backhand toss went over Didi Gregorius' head, leaving both runners safe. Desmond stole third (SB no.16) with Wilson Ramos up and scored on a grounder to short by the Nats' catcher when Bryce Harper broke up a potential DP with a hard slide. 1-0 Nationals after two. 18-pitch frame for Cahill, 28 total after two.

An 11-pitch, 1-2-3 third left Cahill at 39 pitches.

Adam LaRoche singled to center in the first at bat of the Nats' fourth, and moved to second one out later on a single to center by Bryce Harper, but Harper was doubled up on a one-hop liner to short off Wilson Ramos' bat that started an inning-ending 6-4-3. 11-pitch fourth for Cahill, 50 pitches total after four.

Cahill needed just 13 pitches to retire the Nationals in order in a quick fifth, after which he was up to 63 pitches.

Asdrubal Cabrera doubled to left-center to start the Nats' sixth, just out of D-Backs' center fielder Ender Enciarte's reach. Jayson Werth stepped in with a runner in scoring position after the Nationals' first extra base hit of the game and hit an opposite field double to the right-center gap to bring Cabrera around and make it 2-0 Nats.

Cahill stranded two runners at the end of a 29-pitch frame that left him at 92 pitches overall.

Kevin Frandsen walked to start the Nats' seventh, and after a swinging K by Danny Espinosa, Cahill was done...

Trevor Cahill's Line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 103 P, 61 S, 9/1 GO/FO.

2. Turning Point(s): It might not show up in the box score, but a hard slide at second base by Bryce Harper in the second inning was directly (indirectly?) responsible for the Nationals' first run, which held up through five innings.

Ian Desmond walked with one out, and took second when Harper hit a sharp grounder to second that Aaron Hill knocked down but tossed over shortstop Didi Gregorius' head, leaving both runners safe.

With two on and no one out, Desmond stole third, putting runners on the corners with Wilson Ramos due up.

Ramos grounded to short for what looked like an inning-ending 6-4-3, but Harper went in hard and high on D-Backs' second baseman Aaron Hill to break up the potential DP and allow Desmond to score. 1-0 Nats.

+1 for Harper for the hard slide.

1. The Wrap-Up: Oliver Perez took over on the mound for the D-Backs with a runner on and one out in the Nationals' seventh. Denard Span stepped in for the lefty vs lefty matchup and grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3.

Tyler Clippard issued a leadoff walk to Jordan Pacheco in the first at bat of the eighth and gave up a game-tying home run to right by Ender Inciarte in the next at bat. After a single by Cliff Pennington and a swinging K by David Peralta, Nats' skipper Matt Williams went to the pen again for Drew Storen.

Storen vs Mark Trumbo? Pennington stole second with Trumbo at the plate and took third on a sharp grounder to first by the D-Backs' first baseman. Miguel Montero stepped in with the go-ahead run 90ft from home. Storen walked him after falling behind. Aaron Hill popped to right to end the threat. 2-2 after seven and a half.

Brad Ziegler pitched around Adam LaRoche, issuing a two-out walk to the Nats' first baseman in the bottom of the eighth, and got an inning-ending groundout from Ian Desmond to end a 21-pitch frame.

Rafael Soriano retired the D-Backs in order in a 13-pitch frame in the top of the ninth.

Diamondbacks' right-hander Evan Marshall started 3-0 to Harper, got to a full count with help from home plate ump Bill Welke, but gave up a line drive single to center. Wilson Ramos K'd swinging for the first out of the frame. Kevin Frandsen sent a low liner back up the middle under a diving Aaron Hill. Anthony Rendon stepped in as a pinch hitter and won it with a walk-off single. 3-2 final.

Nationals now 72-53