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Washington Nationals drop 4-3 decision to St. Louis Cardinals: Tanner Roark start No. 4 not as sharp as previous outings...

Nationals’ starter Tanner Roark gave up his first earned runs of the Spring in what ended up a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals in West Palm Beach, FL.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Tanner Roark gave up his first earned runs of the Spring this afternoon in what ended up a 4-3 loss loss the St. Louis Cardinals in West Palm Beach, FL’s FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

Washington’s Nationals rallied to tie it up at 3-3 in the seventh, but Shawn Kelley took over on the mound in the eighth and gave up a leadoff home run by Paul DeJong, which ended up being the game-winner.

Roark = Bona fide/Modified: Tanner Roark hasn’t gone “full Strasburg” and started to pitch exclusively out of the stretch, but the 31-year-old right-hander has altered his mechanics some this Spring looking for a more consistent arm slot.

Roark talked to reporters in Florida about his “modified” delivery after his third start of the Spring earlier this week.

“I’m still in a windup,” Roark explained, as quoted by MASN’s Pete Kerzel last Monday.

“I just want to get a little momentum. Instead of forward, side to side. ... Modified windup, basically like a stretch.”

Things appear to be working for the veteran righty early in Spring Training.

Roark hadn’t allowed an earned run in eight-plus innings of work this Spring before Cards’ first baseman Jose Martinez stepped in with a runner on and one out and hit a 2-1 fastball out to left in the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to put the visiting Cardinals up 2-0 early in this afternoon’s Grapefruit League game.

Two scoreless frames followed, in which Roark limited the Cards to just one single, but Paul DeJong led the top of the fourth off with double to right-center field, and Yadier Molina followed with an RBI single to left that put St. Louis up 3-0 after three and a half.

That was it for Roark, who threw 64 pitches total in four innings of work.

Sammy So-quick: Sammy Solis, in his fifth appearance of the Spring as he fights for a spot in the Nats’ bullpen, needed just eight pitches to retire the side in order in a quick top of the fifth inning.

Hits, where are the hits?: Cardinals’ starter Luke Weaver retired the all twelve batters he faced today in West Palm Beach, holding the Nationals hitless through four innings in an impressive outing for the 24-year-old righty. Of course, Anthony Rendon singled to start the fifth in the first at bat against the new Cards’ pitcher, Austin Gomber.

Miguel Montero moved Rendon to third with one out with a fly to deep center field, and Victor Robles hit a second straight fly to center to bring in the Nationals’ first run, 3-1.

Doo-be-doo: Sean Doolittle got a weak ground ball out from Paul DeJong with the slider he’s been talking about working on this Spring, popped Cards’ catcher Yadier Molina up with a 1-2 breaking ball, and worked around a two-out error by Chris Dominguez at third for a scoreless, 18-pitch sixth.

Thanks, Metsies: Matt Reynolds made it a one-run game with his first homer of the Spring, sending a 1-1 change up in the zone from Gomber out to left for a solo shot, 3-2 St. Louis.

Mad Sinker: Brandon Kintzler gave up a two-out walk and a line drive single to center, but stranded both runners in a scoreless, 18-pitch seventh inning, after the Nats rallied to get within a run.

B-aww-tista: Rafael Bautista walked to start the Nats’ half of the seventh, but he was caught trying to steal, so the home run to left by Chris Dominguez that followed (on a center-cut 2-2 fastball from Sean Gilmartin) just tied it up at 3-3 instead of putting the Nationals ahead.

Spencer and Carter Kieboom reached on errors by Cardinals’ third baseman Alex Mejia in consecutive at bats with one down in the seventh, and Andrew Stevenson walked to load the bases, but Josh Lucas took over on the mound for Gilmartin and got an inning-ending and rally-killing double play out of Adrian Sanchez, still 3-3.

Kelley hates homers: Paul DeJong hit an 89 mph, belt-high, 0-1 fastball inside out to left for his second hit of the game and second homer of the Spring, putting the Cards back on top, 4-3. It was the first home run allowed by Kelley in five innings of work this Spring after he surrendered 12 home runs in 26 IP last season.

Bautista walked again to start the ninth, and took second on a fly to right by Dominguez, but he was stranded there.

Final Score: 4-3 Cardinals.