Atlanta at Washington

W: T. Roark (7-0) L: F. Garcia (4-7)
HR: ATL - None   WAS - R. Zimmerman (25)

Rookie Roark baffles Braves; Nationals sweep twinbill wire reports

WASHINGTON -- Washington Nationals rookie pitcher Tanner Roark wanted to keep going.

He had thrown 101 pitches -- 23 more than he had ever thrown in a single game -- but still wasn't ready to call it a night.

"I said, 'Nice game.' He said, 'You sure I'm through?' " Nationals manager Davey Johnson said as he began to smile. "I said, 'Yeah, you're through.' "

Roark was through, but Washington certainly isn't.

The right-hander threw seven shutout innings, and the Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 4-0 to sweep a day-night doubleheader Tuesday, ensuring the Braves leave Washington without the NL East title.

The Nationals entered the nightcap, which followed their 6-5 victory in the makeup of a series opener postponed by a shooting rampage a day earlier at the nearby Navy Yard, within 4½ games of Cincinnati for the NL's second wild-card berth. Washington, which has won 10 of 11, has 11 games remaining.

Roark (7-0) allowed two hits, struck out six and retired the final 13 batters he faced. Johnson even seemed to make up a word -- "posure," apparently a cross between poise and composure -- to describe Roarke.

"It's not smoke and mirrors right now," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "When you get guys coming down to first talking about how good his stuff is, some really good hitters that are praising him, it says a lot."

After being called up in August, Roark was making just his third start.

"I'm just trying to do the same thing as I was doing all year and not trying to change anything," Roark said. "Keep the same mentality, a bulldog mentality, not giving in to anybody in any sense."

Roarke and the Nationals got cushion in the eighth inning, when Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run, Ian Desmond hit an RBI double and Adam LaRoche hit an RBI single. Steve Lomardozzi had a second-inning RBI single off Freddy Garcia (1-2).

Denard Span's fifth-inning single extended his hitting streak to 28 games, breaking a tie with Colorado's Michael Cuddyer for the longest in the major leagues the last two seasons.

The Braves have lost nine of 13, but they still lead the division by eight games over Washington despite the sweep.

"We need to start playing a little better baseball and start swinging the bats," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I like where we are, our position, but there's still baseball games to be played, and we've just got to get back on a roll again."

Craig Kimbrel had converted 37 consecutive save chances since early May, and Andrelton Simmons began the day with the second-best fielding percentage among National League shortstops. But they conspired to blow a three-run lead in the ninth inning of the first game.

Simmons allowed Span's grounder off Kimbrel to bounce through his legs as two runs scored on the game-ending play.

Pinch-hitter Chad Tracy had an RBI grounder against Kimbrel as Washington kept Atlanta's magic number at four for clinching the NL East for the first time since the Braves' streak of 11 consecutive division titles from 1995-05. A sweep of the day-night doubleheader would have sealed the division for Atlanta.

Kimbrel (3-3), who leads the major leagues with 47 saves, blew a save chance for only the fourth time this season.

In the ninth, LaRoche walked on a full count, Wilson Ramos reached on an infield single and Anthony Rendon walked on a 3-2 pitch. After Tracy's grounder, Atlanta elected to pitch to Span with first base open, and he hit a three-hopper over the mound that rolled past Simmons into center field. Span was given an RBI, with the second run scoring on the error.

Ian Krol (2-1) faced two batters in the ninth, giving Washington its first victory in seven home games against Atlanta this year.

Before the games, both teams stood in front of their dugouts, heads bowed, and a color guard was stationed behind home plate during a minute of silence to pay tribute to the people killed Monday and those affected by the shootings.


RHP Stephen Strasburg's bullpen session Monday went "great," Johnson said. Strasburg is set to start Thursday against Miami after missing Friday's turn due forearm tightness in his pitching arm.. Adm. James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, greeted players in the Nationals clubhouse before the game, handing out blue and gold Navy caps to wear during warmups.. Freeman became the first Atlanta player with 100 RBIs in a season since Chipper Jones and Jeff Francoeur in 2007.

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Closer Rafael Soriano and catcher Jhonatan Solano celebrate the Nationals' 21st victory in their past 27 games.  (USATSI)
Closer Rafael Soriano and catcher Jhonatan Solano celebrate the Nationals' 21st victory in their past 27 games. (USATSI)

Players of the Game

R. Zimmerman
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1

F. Garcia
IP 7.0
H 7
ER 1
BB 2
K 6

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Jordan Schafer, CF3000111 .249
Justin Upton, RF4010011 .259
Freddie Freeman, 1B4010011 .313
Evan Gattis, LF4000010 .235
Chris Johnson, 3B4000000 .327
Gerald Laird, C4010012 .262
Dan Uggla, 2B3010020 .183
Andrelton Simmons, SS3000012 .247
Freddy Garcia, P2000010 .000
   a-Elliot Johnson, PH1010000 .205
   Jordan Walden, P0000000 .000
a-singled for Garcia in the 8th
SB - Elliot Johnson (21, 2nd base off Stammen/Solano)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Simmons-Freeman, Simmons-Freeman-Simmons-Uggla-Freeman
E - Andrelton Simmons (13, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
Freddy Garcia (L,4-7) 7711260 4.52
Jordan Walden 1433001 3.30
WP - Freddy Garcia (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Freddy Garcia 84-56, Jordan Walden 20-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Freddy Garcia 6-6, Jordan Walden 2-1
Batters Faced - Freddy Garcia 27, Jordan Walden 7
Washington Nationals
Denard Span, CF4010000 .283
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4121021 .281
Jayson Werth, RF3000101 .320
Bryce Harper, LF4220012 .280
Ian Desmond, SS4121011 .285
Adam LaRoche, 1B3011111 .239
Stephen Lombardozzi, 2B4021001 .255
Jhonatan Solano, C3000003 .167
Tanner Roark, P2010010 .300
   a-Chad Tracy, PH1000000 .187
   Craig Stammen, P0000000 .000
   Rafael Soriano, P0000000 .000
a-grounded out for Roark in the 7th
2B - Ian Desmond (37, Walden)
HR - Ryan Zimmerman (25, Walden)
RBI - Ryan Zimmerman (74), Ian Desmond (79), Adam LaRoche (62), Stephen Lombardozzi (21)
2-OUT RBI - Ian Desmond (32), Adam LaRoche (17)
SB - Denard Span (18, 2nd base off Garcia/Laird), Bryce Harper (11, 2nd base off Garcia/Laird)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Zimmerman-Lombardozzi
E - Ian Desmond (19, Throwing)
Washington Nationals
Tanner Roark (W,7-0) 7200160 1.08
Craig Stammen (H,6) 1100030 2.75
Rafael Soriano 1200000 3.25
Pitches-Strikes - Tanner Roark 101-67, Craig Stammen 18-10, Rafael Soriano 17-12
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Tanner Roark 7-8, Rafael Soriano 2-1
Batters Faced - Tanner Roark 24, Craig Stammen 4, Rafael Soriano 5
Game Information
Attendance - 28369
Game Time - 2:25
Temperature - 63
Umpires - Home - Jordan Baker, First Base - C.B. Bucknor, Second Base - Dale Scott, Third Base - Dana DeMuth