Tanner Roark bounces back as Washington Nationals beat Miami Marlins in series opener

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May 20, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
May 20, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) throws against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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After struggling against the Marlins earlier this season, Washington Nationals starter Tanner Roark turned in a solid performance to lead the Nationals to a win over Miami.

Prior to Friday night’s start against the Marlins, Washington Nationals right-hander Tanner Roark had already faced Miami three times this season.

His first start against the Fish was on April 7, when he gave up three runs in four innings. He faced them again on April 18, when he allowed four runs in six innings. The last time he faced them was on May 14, when he allowed a whopping seven runs over five innings of work.

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For whatever reason, the Marlins — the team sitting in fourth place in the NL East — has had Roark’s number all year. Those three starts against Miami are arguably the worst Roark has made this season, and he entered Friday night’s start knowing that he was facing the only team that had given trouble in 2016.

Fortunately for Roark and the Nationals, his inexplicable struggles against the Marlins came to an end Friday night.

For the first time this season, Roark dominated the Marlins’ lineup all night long. He threw 6 2/3 strong innings, allowing just one run on six hits while walking two batters and striking out seven. It was a much-needed bounce-back effort from the right-hander, who led the Nationals to a 4-1 win in the series opener against Miami.

It helped, of course, that the offense gave Roark plenty of run support early in the game. Ryan Zimmerman got the scoring started with a solo homer in the top of the second inning. An RBI double off the bat of Wilson Ramos stretched the Nationals’ lead to 2-0 later in the inning, before a two-run home run by Michael Taylor doubled their lead to 4-0.

It was a crooked number and an early four-spot on the board for the Nationals, and it was all the run support Roark would need. The Marlins scored their only run in the bottom of the fourth, when a solo home run by Marcell Ozuna made it a 4-1 game.

Once Roark left the game, relievers Felipe Rivero and Shawn Kelley got the game to closer Jonathan Papelbon, who secured his 12th save of the season with a scoreless ninth inning.

Next: Washington Nationals at Marlins Series Preview (5/20-5/22)

With the win, the first-place Nationals improve their record to 26-16. They’ll take their current three-game winning streak into tomorrow night’s game, when they’ll try to secure a series win against Jose Fernandez and the Marlins.

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