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Washington Nationals 4-1 over Houston Astros: Tanner Roark solid in return from WBC

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Tanner Roark limited the Astros to one run on three hits in 5 1⁄3 innings pitched in what ended up a 4-1 Nationals’ win in West Palm Beach, FL.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Roark held Houston off the board through 5 13 innings on the mound, retiring 13-straight Astros between the second and sixth in what ended up a 4-1 Washington Nationals’ win.

Roark, in his first start back after competing in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA, was his usual efficient self, throwing 71 pitches total on the afternoon before manager Dusty Baker lifted the right-hander in the sixth.

Jayson Werth (sac fly), Trea Turner (fielder’s choice grounder) and Daniel Murphy (two-run double) drove in the Nationals’ runs in West Palm Beach, Florida’s Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Here’s how it happened:

Trea Turner singled to start the first, and in spite of Astros’ starter Lance McCullers’ determined effort to keep him there (which included multiple throws over to first, 1 or 2 of which looked like they caught Turner - no replay, sorry, ‘Stros), he managed to take second (No. 6) on a delayed steal and move to third on an error before being stranded there.

Tanner Roark worked around a one-out HBP on his Team USA running mate Alex Bregman, in a scoreless, 11-pitch bottom of the first, striking out Jose Altuve and Carlos Beltran after he hit Bregman.

Josh Reddick singled and Yuliesky Gurriel took a fastball off the hand in the first two at bats of the Astros’ second, but Roark stranded them both in a 14-pitch frame, 25 total after two.

Daniel Murphy connected for his fourth hit of the Spring, his first since March 3rd, in his third inning at bat, beating the shift with an opposite field single to left.

Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon were hit by pitches in the next two at bats and Murphy scored on a sac fly off Jayson Werth’s bat, 1-0.

Roark went to a full count with the first two batters in the Astros’ third, retiring them both in the end, and getting Jose Altuve to pop up to end a 14-pitch inning. 39 total.

Ryan Zimmerman (1 for 2) doubled to left to start the fourth and moved up on an opposite field single by Matt Wieters (2 for 2).

Zimmerman scored on a grounder to second off Trea Turner’s bat, sliding around Brian McCann’s tag and somehow dancing around the catcher and touching the plate. 2-0.

Daniel Murphy followed with a two-run double to short that put the Nationals up, 4-0.

Roark tore through the Astros’ 4-5-6 hitters in a quick 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth which left him at 49 pitches.

Zimmerman was 2 for 3 on the day and 12 for 40 on the Spring after a one-out single in the top of the fifth... and he stole his second base of the Spring with Matt Wieters at the plate.

Roark was up to 12-straight Astros set down (going back to his HBP on Gurriel in the second) after he completed a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth. 59 pitches total.

Roark’s streak of retired batters ended at 13-straight when Alex Bregman singled to center with one down in the sixth, and Jose Altuve followed with an RBI double to deep center field. Bregman scored easily, 4-1 Nationals. That was it for Roark.

• Tanner Roark’s Line: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 71 P, 4/4 GO/FO.

Sammy Solis took over with one on and one out and gave up an infield single by Carlos Beltran that put runners on the corners, but got a 6-4-3 DP to escape the inning.

Shawn Kelley (working in the 8th, speculate, speculate, speculate) retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth, but Dusty Baker went to the pen after a two-out walk to Reid Brignac and Enny Romero came on to face Derek Fisher, lefty vs lefty.

Romero got Fisher looking with a 1-2 slider that batter never saw coming. Still 4-1 Nats.

Romero came back out for the ninth and retired one batter before Baker went to the pen again for Blake Treinen, who worked around a throwing error and closed out the 4-1 win.

Final Score: 4-1 Nationals