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Washington Nationals 7-0 over St. Louis Cardinals: Tanner Roark tosses five scoreless

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Tanner Roark threw 90 pitches total over five scoreless innings as the Washington Nationals beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-0 this afternoon in Grapefruit League action in Jupiter, Florida's Roger Dean Stadium.

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Before today's outing against the St. Louis Cardinals, 29-year-old righty Tanner Roark hadn't started in a Grapefruit League game since March 12th, when the Washington Nationals' right-hander went four innings against the Atlanta Braves, giving up one run on three hits in an 11-1 win.

"Tanner pitched pretty well," Baker told reporters, as quoted in an AP article. "He didn't have the great stuff he had the last two times but that's a good sign when you can win without your best stuff."

"I pitched behind in the count a lot and that's the biggest thing I didn't want to do," Roark said.

"That's how you get in trouble, but overall I felt good."

Roark described his stuff in the outing against the Braves as "effectively wild" according to Washington Post writer Chelsea Janes, explaining that hitters were laying off stuff out of the zone and getting in good hitters' counts.

"They recognize what you’re throwing for strikes and what you’re not, that’s when you get in trouble," Roark said. "But overall, got it done."

After facing minor league hitters between that last start and today's outing, Roark was expected to go six innings and throw around 100 pitches this afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Given a 1-0 lead to work with before he took the mound, Roark gave up a hard-hit double to left off Kolten Wong's bat with one down in the first, then threw a pickoff attempt by second base, allowing Wong to take third.

A fastball inside hit Matt Holliday, but Roark struck Randal Grichuk out with a breaking ball off the plate outside and a weak grounder back to the pitcher by Brandon Moss ended a 21-pitch frame.

Former Met Ruben Tejada singled through short and the opposing pitcher, Mike Leake, singled through second with two down in the Cards' half of the second inning, but Matt Carpenter chased a 3-2 fastball up high to end a 23-pitch second that left Roark at 44 pitches.

Kolten Wong beat out a weak grounder to second for a leadoff single in the Cardinals' third and Matt Holliday lined an 0-1 fastball up high outside to right to put two on with no one out.

Randal Grichuk rolled over a 2-2 curve inside from Roark, however, grounding into a force at third, and Brandon Moss stared a backdoor 2-2 curve all the way in for a called strike three and out no.2 before Yadier Molina popped out to the infield to end an 18-pitch frame and Roark's third scoreless. 62 pitches total.

Roark walked Mike Leake with two down in the bottom of the fourth, and gave up a two-out single to the left-center gap by Matt Carpenter, but Greg Garcia grounded out to first to end a 20-pitch frame. 82 total.

The Cards went down in order in a quick, eight-pitch first that left Roark at 90 pitches.

Tanner Roark's Line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB (to the opposing pitcher) 4 Ks, 7/1 GO/FO, 90 P.

GAME NOTES:

• Michael A. Taylor picked up where he left off in his last game of the Spring, doubling off Cards' starter Mike Leake in his first at bat this afternoon for his fifth two-base hit in Grapefruit League action, improving to 19 for 38 this Spring with five doubles and four home runs so far. Taylor's double sent Matt den Dekker around to third after den Dekker singled and the outfielder scored on a groundout by Ryan Zimmerman. 1-0.

Danny Espinosa went down looking at a fastball outside in his first at bat this afternoon, leaving him 3 for 26 with 11 Ks in 12 Grapefruit League games. Espinosa did, however, show off the glove in the bottom of the second, ranging to his right on a grounder by Tommy Pham and making an across-the-body throw to first to get the speedy outfielder.

• Taylor walked the second time up, but got picked off first base by Mike Leake.

• Ryan Zimmerman hit his second home run of the Spring out to left on a line, taking Leake deep in the 4th to make it 2-0 Nationals. 1 for 2 today, 8 for 29 in Grapefruit League action. Wilson Ramos singled and Chris Heisey doubled in the next two at bats, giving Danny Espinosa a shot with a runner in scoring position and he sent a hard-hit grounder through Kolten Wong's wickets. 4-0 Nationals.

• The Cards' fourth error of the game let the Nationals' fifth run in, 5-0 in the sixth. With runners on the corners, Matt den Dekker hit a grounder to third that Matt Carpenter booted and Michael Taylor followed with a two-run single to left that brought in two runs. 7-0.

Felipe Rivero retired the Cardinals in order in the home-half of the sixth. Sean Burnett completed a quick, scoreless seventh. Matt Belisle threw a scoreless eighth, retiring the Cards in order as well and Aaron Laffey finished St. Louis off in the ninth... after loading the bases with three walks. 7-0 final.