Entering the day the big story was Bryce Harper’s injured thumb, but Tanner Roark’s right arm soon took the headlines as his brilliant pitching performance led the Nationals to a 4-0 win against the visiting San Diego Padres.
Roark (2-0) extended his scoreless streak to 18 innings, not surrendering a run since an April 16th outing against the Miami Marlins. On Saturday, with a fastball that moved like a wiffle ball and a curve that dropped as though weighted with lead, Roark remained perfect through 5 1/3, dominating a punchless Padres lineup that entered the game next to last in the NL in batting average and last in runs scored.
Roark tossed a three-hit shutout for his first career complete game and a career high eight strikeouts. Roark’s was also the first complete game for a Nats starter this year and the second collective shutout. Indicative of his afternoon, Roark finished the game with two ground outs and a strikeout of Jedd Gyorko.
The Nationals spotted Roark an early lead, scoring three in the first off of Padres starter Andrew Cashner (2-3). Adam LaRoche extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI single in the inning, and Ian Desmond recorded three hits for the second straight game, starting his day with a double in the first. Since ending play Thursday night, Desmond has raised his average from .200 to .242.
For the fourth straight game the Nats reached double figures in hits, reaching 10 on Saturday after torching Padres pitching for 16 and 17 the last two nights. Espinosa and backup catcher Sandy Leon were the only Nats regulars who failed to record a hit in this game, including Roark who singled in the second.
Bryce Harper sat out of Saturday’s game, being replaced in the field by Kevin Frandsen. Harper was spotted during the game with his left hand wrapped, an injury that occurred Friday on a bases clearing triple. According to manager Matt Williams, Harper’s hand is swollen and he will undergo an MRI later today.
For the first time since April 10th, the Nats win back to back games. They are now 5-5 on their current 11 game home stand and look to finish above .500 on Sunday with Taylor Jordan (0-3) pitching against Ian Kennedy (1-3).