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Tanner Roark leads Nationals to 1-0 win over Mets and 2 of 3 from NY in D.C.

Dusty Baker was in the Nationals’ thoughts as they beat the Mets, 1-0, while their manager was away due to a death in his family.

MLB: New York Mets at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Through eleven second-half starts, Tanner Roark was (6-3) with a 2.58 ERA, a 4.50 FIP, 26 walks (3.36 BB/9), 49 Ks (6.33 K/9) and a .224/.318/.369 line against in 69 23 innings pitched heading into this afternoon’s series finale with the New York Mets.

One of Roark’s three second-half losses came in an outing against the Mets in Citi Field earlier this month, when he gave up four hits, four walks and two earned runs in a 3-1 loss.

Dusty Baker acknowledged after that outing by the Washington Nationals’ 29-year-old right-hander, that Roark wasn’t quite as sharp as he usually is on the mound.

“He wasn’t as sharp, but he kept us in the game. I mean, when he left it was 2-1. And we had action on taking the lead like I said. We had quite a few opportunities, hit a couple balls hard, they had some opportunities too.”

Roark chalked it up to not being sharp, “... just not being effective in the strike zone, and falling behind in the count.”

So, a reporter asked, how do you adjust when you’re having what Roark himself described as a “not-so-good” outing?

“You tend to try harder,” Roark explained, “which you can’t. The more you try the worse it gets, it unravels, so you just got to keep your focus and trust yourself.”

Roark finished that night in New York (0-2) against the Mets this season, in spite of the fact that he had a 1.88 ERA and a .180/.268/.280 line against in 14 13 IP vs the Nats’ NL East rivals in two starts and one relief appearance this season.

Before today’s start, Bench Coach and acting manager Chris Speier, who was filling in for Dusty Baker with the skipper away due to a death in the family, talked about getting to know Roark and being impressed by what he’s seen.

“I love Tanner,” Speier said. “He’s a pleasant surprise. Coming over here new, and for me it was new because I was out of the game for a year and a half, two years, and trying to get to know everybody and the one thing about Tanner is, he’s probably one of the most highly-competitive guys that I’ve met. He leaves everything out on the field.

“You look at talent, you try to grade the guy out, and there isn’t going to be a whole lot of things that are at the top of the list, but that competitive spirit and what he gives in that competition, there isn’t a better guy I’d want out there on the mound.”

All of that was on display again this afternoon, as Roark held the Mets scoreless over seven innings on the mound, giving up jus three hits and four walks, while striking out seven batters in what ended up a 1-0 when Wilson Ramos hit a seventh-inning homer for the only run the Nationals would need.

Roark earned his 15th win, (15-8) and lowered his ERA to 2.75 on the season.

“We started today and there was a question about Tanner Roark and what a great lead-in to a postgame situation,” Speier said when he met with reporters after the game.

“This is what he’s done all year and he’s given us opportunities and he shut down a really good baseball team offensively. These guys have been scoring runs.

“I want to say, from both sides, this is probably the most difficult time to play a game, at 4:00, it’s really difficult for the hitters, as you saw from both sides.

“[Robert] Gsellam didn’t give up much. Tanner sure didn’t give up much, but it was a lot more nerve-wracking. They could have given me a six-run lead, but no, we’ve got to go down to a 1-0 lead. Usually a game situation like that, you get that big hit and what a great job [Ramos] did.”

Speier managed the Nationals to a win which he said was for Dusty Baker, who was in his thoughts as things wound down in Nationals Park.

“As we got into that ninth inning with a one-run lead, I got emotional,” Speier said.

“I was saying some powerful prayers, just, ‘This one’s for Dusty, let everybody just perform the way they can perform.’

“I know he’s happy today, for that, and it may add a little bit of joy to the tough time that he’s in right now.”

• We talked about Roark’s outing, Ramos having the game’s premier HR trot and more on Nats Nightly: