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Roark, bench bats help snap seven-game losing streak

Roark, bench bats help snap seven-game losing streak

Rejoice, Nationals fans. The streak is finally over.

After Sunday afternoon's 3-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers, the Nats snapped their season-high seven-game losing streak and headed back to D.C. on a high note. The win, coupled with a loss by the New York Mets, gives Washington a three-game lead in the NL East ahead of this week's key series at Nats Park between the two division rivals. 

Now that the skid is over with, here are a few thoughts on Sunday's game and more: 

Roark saves the day: With Stephen Strasburg’s Sunday start scratched due to a back injury, it was up to Tanner Roark to play the role of stopper. And boy did he ever.

Pitching a day before he was scheduled to, Roark gave the Nats a clutch outing to help snap their losing skid. He threw seven shutout frames and struck out seven on 95 pitches, raising his record to 7-5 and lowering his ERA on the season 2.96.

For sure, he wasn't dominant the entire way — the Brewers scattered seven hits off him — but he did what so few Nats starters had done throughout this recent slide: he worked his way out of jams. When the Brewers had runners at the corners and two out in the fourth inning, he stuck out Kirk Nieuwenhuis to end the threat. Three innings innings later, with the tying run on third base, he retired Alex Presley and Jonathan Villar to keep the Nats' 1-0 lead in tact. Dusty Baker lamented on Saturday how starter Gio Gonzalez couldn't get the third out in big spots, but Roark came through in that area in spades in the series finale.  

And if it wasn’t obvious enough just how big Roark’s performance was, his teammates greeted him with jubilant high-fives in the dugout after he escaped his last inning on the afternoon unscathed. He may not be considered the staff ace, but on Sunday, he did what aces are called upon to do.  

Bench bats deliver again: On a day where most of the regulars in the lineup struggled at the plate, the decisive blows in this game came from a pair of bench players. Then again, the Nats’ reserves have come up big all season long, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise when it keeps happening.

In a scoreless tie in the seventh inning, Jose Lobaton put Washington out front with an opposite-field solo home run, and Clint Robinson followed that up in the eighth by launching a two-run shot to create a 3-0 cushion. And even though things got dicey in the ninth inning — the Brewers were a base hit away from tying the game — those runs would be just good enough to secure a 3-2 victory.  

Who replaces Strasburg? The big news that broke before Sunday's game was that Stephen Strasburg was placed on the 15-day disabled list with an upper back injury. And while Nats fans are rightfully concerned about how seriously injured the star pitcher might be, the team has to find an adequate replacement for him in the meantime.

Baker said after Sunday's game that the Nats will call up a minor league pitcher to start in Strasburg's absence on Tuesday night against the New York Mets. The question is — who that might be? Some fans are clamoring to get a glimpse of top prospect Lucas Giolito, but is this the time for him to make his major league debut? That's for the organization to decide. If Giolito isn't the choice, then keep an eye on is 24-year-old Austin Voth, who is 4-3 with a 2.99 ERA at Syracuse and appears to be better positioned to make a spot start. 

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

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Turner, Adams power Nats over Giants to end 4-game skid

SAN FRANCISCO -- Trea Turner got five hits, Matt Adams homered and drove in six runs, and the Washington Nationals broke out of their offensive funk in a big way, routing the San Francisco Giants 15-2 Wednesday to end a four-game losing streak.

The Nationals had totaled just eight runs during their skid. Andrew Stevenson had two doubles, two singles and four RBIs as Washington set season highs for runs and hits (18).

Manager Dave Martinez's ballclub has been stunted by a rash of injuries this season but salvaged the final game of the three-game series at AT&T Park series to end a rough 4-5 road trip. Max Scherzer (5-1) did his part, striking out 10 in six innings.

Turner came into the game batting .232, and the leadoff man's slow start had contributed to the Nationals' struggles. He raised his batting average 35 points, tying a career high for hits in a game. He also scored twice, drove in two runs and stole his 10th base this season.

Adams matched his career best for RBIs. He singled as part of a three-run first, put the Nationals up 6-1 with a three-run homer off Jeff Samardzija (1-1) in the fourth and added a two-run single in the eighth.

The Nationals scored 14 of their 15 runs with two outs.

Scherzer earned his fourth consecutive win, all of them coming after a Washington loss. He allowed two runs and five hits, and reached double figures in strikeouts for the fourth time in six starts this season.

Brandon Belt and Pablo Sandoval each two hits apiece for the Giants.

Samardzija labored through a 30-pitch first inning and was done after retiring 11 batters. He gave up six runs on eight hits with three walks.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: 1B Ryan Zimmerman and 2B Howie Kendrick were given the day off.

Giants: Mac Williamson was a late scratch because of neck stiffness, one day after stumbling over the bullpen pitching mound and crashing into a low fence while chasing a foul ball. ... RHP Chris Stratton was placed on the paternity list. ... RHP Roberto Gomez was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (2-2, 2.97 ERA) pitches against the Diamondbacks on Friday in Washington. He has yielded six earned runs and three homers over his last 13 innings.

Giants: LHP Derek Holland (0-3, 4.98) faces the Los Angeles Dodgers in the opener of a four-game series at AT&T Park on Friday night. Holland is winless in two career starts against the Dodgers.

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Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3

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Williamson homers again, Giants top Nationals 4-3

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mac Williamson had to dust himself off after crashing into a low padded wall near the stands in left field while chasing a foul ball.

More frustrated than hurt, Williamson took it out on Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark a few moments later after undergoing a series of concussion tests in the dugout.

Williamson homered for the second straight night and third in five games, hitting a tiebreaking shot in the sixth inning to lead San Francisco to a 4-3 victory over Washington on Tuesday night.

"I got pretty lucky," Williamson said. "I felt fine then and I feel fine now. I'm sure once the adrenalin wears off later tonight, tomorrow we'll see how the body feels. I'm sure I'll be a little sore."

Brandon Belt hit his fifth home run in six games, Joe Panik added three hits and scored twice, and the Giants won their third straight and fourth in the last five.

One night after hitting a 464-foot homer in the series opener, Williamson hit a first-pitch solo shot to center off Roark with two outs in the sixth inning that bounced off the top of the wall and broke a 3-all tie. It wasn't as far as Monday's clout -- this one went 423 feet -- but was just as pivotal for the Giants.

"We've talked about what a shot in the arm he's been and he's more than that," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He came through again tonight. Good for him because he's worked hard at it."

Williamson's deciding home run came one inning after he stumbled over the bullpen mound in foul territory and crashed into a low wall near the stands while trying to chase down Bryce Harper's foul ball. Williamson stayed down briefly as team trainers rushed out before getting to his feet.

"I tried to roll my neck a little bit and my head down a little bit when I started going down," Williamson said. "I think that helped break my fall. I was just a little frustrated I didn't come up with the play. I had it in my glove and it came out."

Belt hit a two-run shot off Roark (1-2) in the third.

Michael Taylor had a three-run homer for Washington, which has lost four straight and 14 of 20 since opening the season 4-0.

"It seems like that sixth inning's been biting us in the rear as of late," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "We're swinging the bats. We just can't get the big hit with people on base."

Reyes Moronta (1-0) retired six batters for his first career win. Sam Dyson pitched one inning and Hunter Strickland worked the ninth for his fifth save.

The Giants got a run off Roark in the first but left the bases loaded when Evan Longoria struck out looking to end the inning. Belt homered on a 3-2 pitch from Roark in the second to make it 3-0.

Washington tied it on Taylor's three-run homer off starter Ty Blach in the third. Ryan Zimmerman walked and Moises Sierra singled before Taylor's deep drive into the right-field stands.

Roark went into the game 6-0 in seven career games against San Francisco but couldn't find a rhythm this time. He allowed four runs on six hits, walked two and hit a batter and threw a pair of wild pitches.

WHERE DID IT GO?

Panik hit a soft comebacker to Roark in the fifth that glanced off the pitcher's glove then bounced up on the top of his cap before falling to the turf. Roark initially couldn't locate the ball but found it in time to throw to first for the out.

AILING BLACH

Blach allowed three runs and four hits in five innings. After the game, Bochy said the left-hander suffered from food poisoning last week and was given an IV on Monday. "That was a really gutty effort that he gave us," Bochy said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Placed RHP Shawn Kelley on the 10-disabled list with ulnar nerve irritation in his right elbow. Infielder/outfielder Matt Reynolds was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse and outfielder Rafael Bautista and infielder Adrian Sanchez were called up.

UP NEXT

Nationals RHP Max Scherzer (4-1, 1.36 ERA) and Giants RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00) take to the mound for the series finale at AT&T Park on Wednesday. Samardzija is making his second start after beginning the season on the disabled list.