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Washington Nationals 2-1 over Texas Rangers in Nats’ first game in Arlington since 2005...

Paolo Espino was solid again, and Josh Bell had a big night at the plate in a 2-1 Nationals’ win over the Rangers...

Washington Nationals v Texas Rangers Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Espino vs Texas:

Paolo Espino had his contract purchased by the Texas Rangers in 2017, after he debuted for the Milwaukee Brewers earlier that season.

He made six appearances out of the bullpen, finishing four games, but was released in April of 2018, and he didn’t pitch in the majors again until he was in Washington in 2020, but he’s been a valuable part of the Nationals’ roster since, pitching in the rotation at times and out of the bullpen for the most part this season, though he’d moved into the rotation for his last two outings before tonight.

Espino took the mound in Arlington, TX’s Globe Life Field with a 2.29 ERA, a 3.39 FIP, eight walks, 27 Ks, and a .227/.271/.333 line against in 22 games, two starts, and 35 13 innings on the year, and he tossed two scoreless innings on 39 pitches, working around leadoff singles in each of the first two innings.

Two batters reached in the third, on one- and two-out singles, but Espino stranded them at the end of a 20-pitch frame, which left him at 59 total, and he worked around a two-out hit in a 12-pitch fourth that had him up to 71, then he retired the side in order in a quick, seven-pitch the bottom of the fifth inning to complete five scoreless on 78 pitches overall.

Given a 1-0 lead to work with after the top of the sixth, Espino gave up a game-tying homer on his second pitch in the bottom of the inning, with Adolis García leading off with a 423-ft. blast to left on an 0-1 curveball, 1-1. García’s 14th of 2022.

A one-out walk to Mitch Garver later in the sixth ended Espino’s outing...

Paolo Espino’s Line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 89 P, 58 S, 6/6 GO/FO.

Dane Dunning vs Washington:

Drafted by the Nationals in the first round (29th overall) in 2016, and traded to the Chicago White Sox along with Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, in exchange for Adam Eaton, late in ‘16, Dane Dunning was subsequently traded to Texas in a deal for Lance Lynn in 2020, and in 14 starts this season before tonight, the 27-year-old right-hander was (1-5) with a 4.38 ERA, a 4.00 FIP, 28 walks, 70 Ks, and a .250/.324/.394 line against in 76 IP on the year before taking on the team that drafted him tonight.

Dunning tossed two scoreless on 32 pitches to start the series opener, but hit Victor Robles in the first at-bat of the third, and César Hernández bunted his way on in front of Juan Soto, setting the Nationals’ 23-year-old slugger up with an early RBI opportunity, but Soto hit into an easy, 1-6-3 DP for the first two outs of the inning, and Josh Bell grounded out for No. 3.

Nelson Cruz doubled to left on a 2-2 changeup from Dunning to lead off the fourth, but he got a late start off second, taking a step back to the bag before running on a Keibert Ruiz single, and he got thrown out at home, and it wasn’t close. Yadiel Hernández’s groundout ended the inning.

A 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth left Dunning at 69 pitches overall, but Josh Bell doubled to center field with one out in the top of the sixth, and scored on a two-out, two-base hit to center off Luis García’s bat.

García hit a 2-1 cutter to center for his sixth two-base hit of the season and a 1-0 lead. Bell’s 11th, García’s 6th. Dunning was up to 91 pitches after a 22-pitch frame.

Dane Dunning’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 91 P, 59 S, 7/4 GO/FO.

Bullpen Action:

Carl Edwards, Jr. took over for the Nationals with a runner on and one out in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the sixth, and the right-handed reliever walked a batter with two out before stranding both runners.

Matt Bush took over for the Rangers with the score tied at 1-1 in the top of the seventh, and retired the side in order in a 10-pitch frame.

Edwards, Jr. returned to the mound in the bottom of the seventh, and retired the Rangers in order to keep it a 1-1 game.

Juan Soto doubled to left-center to lead off the eighth, hitting a 1-1 changeup from right-handed reliever Dennis Santana. Soto’s 13th double of 2022.

Josh Bell stepped in next to drive Soto in with a single to center field, 2-1. Bell’s 3rd hit of the game, which left him a home run short of the cycle.

Lefty Brett Martin took over with Bell at first and one out in the eighth, and got a double play out of Luis García to end the top of the inning.

Kyle Finnegan gave up a one-out single by Kole Calhoun in the Rangers’ half of the eighth, and his pinch runner, Leody Taveras, stole second in the next at-bat, but Mitch Garver hit a hump-backed line drive into César Hernández’s glove behind second for out No. 2, and the Rangers’ catcher, Jonah Heim, who K’d looking at a 97 MPH 1-2 sinker for out No. 3.

Martin tossed another scoreless inning in the top of the ninth to keep it 2-1 Nationals.

Tanner Rainey got the bottom of the ninth, and gave up a one-out walk to pinch hitter John H. Smith, who sped around to third on a Brad Miller single in the next at-bat.

Marcus Semien stepped in with runners on the corners and one out, and fell behind 0-2, and popped up to third base for out No. 2. Corey Seager? Fly to center. Ballgame.

Nationals now 26-47