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Washington Nationals’ Tanner Roark struggles again in 8-1 loss to St. Louis Cardinals...

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Tanner Roark threw 85 pitches total in just three innings and the St. Louis Cardinals were up 8-1 after four in the series opener with the Washington Nationals...

Washington Nationals v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Washington Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark gave up four hits, a career-high five walks, and three earned runs in three innings in St. Louis, Missouri’s Busch Stadium tonight, and he was out of the game after throwing a total of 85 pitches in what ended up an 8-1 loss to the Cardinals.

In six starts this month, the Nationals’ 30-year-old right-hander has now given up 31 runs, 28 earned, in 30 13 innings pitched (8.31 ERA).

Jacob Turner did the yeoman’s work in the series opener, going 3 23 innings in relief of Roark after Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker was forced to go to the bullpen early in the first of three.

Cards’ starter Mike Leake went eight innings on 93 pitches, giving up just five hits and one earned run, inducing 13 ground ball outs and four double plays.

Yadier Molina drove in four runs with two-run singles in the third and fourth innings as the Cardinals jumped out to a lead against Roark and added to it against Jacob Turner with three in the third and five in the fourth.

Nationals now 47-33

HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:

Cards’ center fielder Tommy Pham pulled a potential home run/extra base hit off the top of the wall in the Nationals’ first, robbing Brian Goodwin, and Nationals’ right-hander Tanner Roark worked his way out of a two-on, no-out jam in the bottom of the first inning, 0-0 after one.

Roark stranded two in each of his first two innings on the mound in Busch Stadium, and he set a career high in walks with the second of two free passes he issued to the first two batters of the Cards’ third.

He failed to grab chopper back to the mound off Jedd Gyorko’s bat as St. Louis loaded the bases with no outs, and Yadier Molina extended his current hit streak to 15 games with a two-run single to center on a 3-2 slider. 2-0 Cardinals. Greg Garcia’s two-out hit made it 3-0 Cards, and Roark’s 34-pitch third pushed him up to 85 pitches.

Tanner Roark’s Line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 2 Ks, 85 P, 46 S, 3/1 GO/FO.

Jacob Turner gave up a leadoff double to center by Matt Carpenter in the Cardinals’ fourth, and a groundout and wild pitch moved the Cards’ first baseman over to third base with one out. Carpenter scored, after a walk to Stephen Piscotty, when Jedd Gyorko hit a ground-run double to right-center, 4-1.

Yadier Molina followed with his second two-run single of the game, 6-1, and Paul DeJong hit a two-run blast to left-center, 8-1.

Jacob Turner kept it at a seven-run lead through six, but left with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. Joe Blanton got the Nationals out of the jam, however, [ed. note - “That is not a typo.”] and came back out for a quick scoreless eighth.

• Mike Leake’s Line: 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 93 P, 56 S, 13/2 GO/FO.

Sam Tuivailala took over for the Cardinals in the ninth and

NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:

  • Heading into this weekend’s three-game set in St. Louis MO’s Busch Stadium, the Cardinals hold a 46-34 advantage in the all-time series with the Washington Nationals, though the Nats are 7-3 in the last ten meetings between the two teams.
  • Washington’s offense started the night leading the NL in AVG (.278), OBP (.344), SLG (.476), home runs (tied, 121), hits (775), extra-base hits (296), runs scored (446), and RBIs (434).
  • Nationals’ starter began the series leading the majors in Ks (512), and ranked second in WHIP (1.20), opponents’ batting average (.236), and opponents’ OPS (.693).
  • The Cardinals’ 37-41 start to the season is their worst since 2007, when they were 36-42 in their first 78 games.
  • In today’s Nationals-themed “Fun with Arbitrary End Points” segment: Anthony Rendon is 38 for 11 (.342), with 10 doubles, 11 home runs, 19 walks, and 25 runs scored... over his last 32 games.
  • Daniel Murphy had his 12-game hit streak end on Thursday, after he went 16 for 47 (.340 AVG) over the course of his streak.
  • Cards’ catcher Yadier Molina started tonight’s matchup with a 14-game hit streak going, over which he’s gone 18 for 57 (.316 AVG).
  • Since taking over in center field for Adam Eaton, Michael A. Taylor is hitting .294 with 16 doubles, two triples, 11 HRs, 32 runs batted in, nine steals and 35 runs scored.
  • Tanner Roark started the night (1-1) with a 5.25 ERA in two starts, two relief appearances.

Nationals now 47-33