Jul 30, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) throws during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Nats Avoid Sweep, Beat Marlins 4-3

Needing a win to avoid a sweep at the hands of red-hot Marlins, the Nationals turned to Tanner Roark (11-6) for the boost they needed, and he turned in another great pitching performance as the Nats took the series finale 4-3.

The Nats plated the first run of the game off of Brad Hand (2-3) when Anthony Rendon doubled home Denard Span in the top of the first.  Miami answered back in the fourth when Jordany Valdespin hit his second home run of the season, knotting the score at 1-1.  Neither starting pitcher allowed a run after that until the 8th.

Roark did everything in his power to help the Nats avoid losing three in a row.  He continued a trend of exceptional pitching performances by going seven innings and allowing one earned run on three hits and two walks while striking out seven.  He has now gone four straight starts pitching seven innings and allowing only one run.  Roark has now allowed two or fewer runs in 12 of his last 15 starts, dating back to May 10th.

Hand was as equally impressive in this outing up until the 8th when he allowed a leadoff double to Scott Hairston, who pinch hit for Roark, and a bunt single to Span.  Hand’s day finished with three earned runs allowed in seven innings.  He gave up five hits and two walks while striking out two.  A.J. Ramos relieved Hand.

Jayson Werth, returning to action after leaving Monday’s game with a sprained ankle, hit a sac fly to score Nate McClouth and give the Nats a 2-1 lead.  After an Adam LaRoche walk, Ian Desmond doubled home Span and LaRoche to make it 4-1.

Tyler Clippard pitched a perfect eighth.  Drew Storen pitched the ninth in lieu of Rafael Soriano and allowed Giancarlo Stanton’s 24th home run.  The Marlins then made it 4-3 when Adeiny Hechavarria doubled home Marcell Ozuna.  Storen, not to be outdone for the closer’s drama department, finally recorded the game’s final out and his first save on the season after allowing two earned on three hits and a walk.

Span finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.  He now has 20 stolen bases on the season, matching last season’s total.  LaRoche also swiped a bag, his first on the season.  Danny Espinosa finished 2-for-4, and Werth finished 1-for-3.  Desmond’s two RBIs now give him 64 on the season.

The mood amongst fans entering this game was gloomy, and it didn’t get any better after hearing news that Ryan Zimmerman had a Grade 3 hamstring strain, which involves a tear, and he could be out for quite some time.

After a nine-game road trip that the Nats finished 5-4, they return to begin a four-game series with Philadelphia.  On the season, the Nats are 6-3 against the Phillies and 30-20 at home.  Gio Gonzalez (6-6) is scheduled to pitch the opener against Cliff Lee (4-5).

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