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Washington Nationals 3-2 over Pittsburgh Pirates: Tanner Roark goes seven strong, drives in run in win...

Tanner Roark put together a solid start and helped his own cause with an RBI single in a 3-2 Nationals’ win over the Pirates in the nation’s capital...

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Tanner Roark held the Pittsburgh Pirates to two runs on six hits in seven innings, and the 31-year-old right-hander drove in a run in what ended up a 3-2 win for Washington’s Nationals in the series opener with the Bucs in the nation’s capital tonight.

Roark outdueled Pirates’ righty Jameson Taillon, who gave up three runs on seven hits over six innings, with Wilmer Difo and Trea Turner driving in runs with singles in the second and fourth, respectively, to lift the Nationals to their 13th win of the season.

Roark vs PIT: In two starts against the Pirates in Nationals Park before tonight, Tanner Roark was (2-0) with a 1.98 ERA in 13 23 innings, but he was winless over his previous four outings overall this season after earning a decision in his first start of 2018.

Over the last four, the 31-year-old right-hander was (0-2) with a 4.50 ERA, 10 walks, 20 Ks, and a .186/.283/.395 line against in 24 innings.

Roark got off to a good start in the series opener with Pittsburgh, throwing three scoreless on 35 pitches as the Nats jumped out to a 1-0 lead.

After retiring the Pirates in order in a 14-pitch top of the fourth, Roark helped his own cause with an RBI single in a two-run bottom of the fourth inning that made it a 3-0 game, but the Pirates got on the board in the fifth with back-to-back hits by Jordy Mercer (single) and the opposing pitcher, Jameson Taillon, who doubled to left-center on a 1-2 fastball, 3-1 Nats.

It was a 3-2 game in the Nationals’ favor after Corey Dickerson hit a full-count fastball out to right, leading off the seventh with a solo blast off Roark that landed in the second deck, but the Nationals’ starter retired the next three batters to get through the inning with the lead.

Tanner Roark’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 105 P, 64 S, 9/3 GO/FO.

PRONOUNCED TIE-OWN: Jameson Taillon was (2-0) in his first three starts this season, with a 0.89 ERA and a .130/.200/.174 line against in 20 13 innings pitched, but he struggled in his previous two outings before tonight’s game, giving up 14 hits and 12 earned runs over 5 13 innings pitched.

Taillon retired the Nationals in order in a quick, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 first tonight, but a two-out RBI single up the middle by Wilmer Difo in the second brought Michael A. Taylor around after the Nationals’ center fielder grounded into a force at second, and took second base on a throwing error on an ill-advised attempt to double the speedy outfielder up, 1-0.

Matt Wieters and Difo hit back-to-back, one-out singles off Taillon in the home-half of the fourth, and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position for Tanner Roark, who sent an RBI single to center for a 2-0 lead.

Trea Turner followed with the fourth straight one-out single, sending a grounder through the left side to bring Difo home, 3-0.

Taillon drove in a run with a two-out double in the fifth, and retired the last seven batters he faced in a 101-pitch, six-inning outing.

Jameson Taillon’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 101 P, 69 S, 9/2 GO/FO.

#LetBrycePlay: Jameson Taillon went after Bryce Harper the first time the two faced off tonight, getting a swinging K with a 96 mph 2-2 fastball, but there was a runner on second after a Trea Turner double when Harper stepped up for the second time in the third.

Taillon went at him early in the at bat, but put Harper on after falling behind 2-1, issuing the 37th walk (and 8th intentional walk) of the season to the Nationals’ slugger, two shy of Barry Bonds’ record of 39 walks in March/April, set in 2004.

Bonds walked 232 times total that season, an MLB record that still stands. Bonds actually has the top three spots in the single-season walk total record books.

With a runner on second in the seventh, Harper got his 38th walk of the season, 9th IBB.

Howie Doin: Howie Kendrick started the series opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight in the nation’s capital with a seven-game hit streak, over which the 34-year-old infielder was 10 for 25 (.400 AVG) with four doubles, two home runs, four RBI, two walks, and three runs scored. His streak ended with an 0 for 4, 2 K night against the Bucs.

Fun With Arbitrary End Points: Trea Turner was 20 for 62 (.323/.408/.435) with five doubles, a triple, three RBIs, nine walks, seven stolen bases, and 10 runs scored over 14 games since April 13th heading into tonight’s game with the Pirates, after he started the season with a 10 for 50 stretch (.200/.322/.260), one home run, nine walks, five stolen bases, and four runs scored over the first 13 games.

After grounding out the first time up tonight, Turner doubled to lead off the third, but was stranded three outs later. Double No. 6 of 2018.

Turner hit an RBI single through the hole at short in the fourth, driving in a run to make it a 3-0 game in the Nationals’ favor. 2 for 3... and 3 for 4 after a leadoff single off Pirates’ right-hander Richard Rodgriuez in the seventh.

Turner tagged and took second on a fly to right by Ryan Zimmerman, somehow avoiding the tag when he appeared to be dead to rights on a strong throw in by Gregory Polanco, but he was called safe and remained so even after it was reviewed. Turner was eventually stranded.

BULLPEN ACTION: Tanner Roark went seven strong, which was helpful since the Nationals didn’t have Sean Doolittle available tonight, after the closer threw in three straight days.

Ryan Madson got the eighth for the Nationals, and retired the Pirates in order in a nine-pitch frame.

Brandon Kintzler got the ninth with Doolittle unavailable, and retired the Pirates in order.


Final Score: 3-2 Nationals

Nationals now 13-16