Harper, homers ignite Nats


By James Kenney

The Nationals had Tanner Roark face off against Erik Johnson in the first game of a four game set with the San Diego Padres in Petco Park. Scoring started early in the bottom of the first inning as Roark began to struggle. He did not retire a batter until forcing clean-up hitter Yangervis Solarte, after surrendering two hits and a walk to the first three Padre batters. Outfielder Matt Kemp put the Pads on the board with a single to centerfield. Two batters later, Roark surrendered another single to centerfield, hit by Melvin Upton, Jr. Roark escaped further damage by inducing a 6-3 unassisted double play to end the inning.

The Nats would answer right back in the top of the second inning. Infielder Stephen Drew, playing at second base for Daniel Murphy, smashed a long sacrifice fly to centerfield to score catcher Wilson Ramos.

In the top of the third inning, Bryce Harper gave the Nats the lead with a high home run to left field with Jayson Werth on base. It was his first home run in the month of June. One batter later, Ramos would give the Nationals their fourth run with a solo shot to right-centerfield. The Nats lead 4-2.

Roark would again get into trouble in the bottom of the fifth inning. Converted first baseman Wil Myers took a fast ball and laced a line drive home run to the left field corner. It was his 15th home run of the season.

In the top of the sixth frame, third baseman Anthony Rendon dug out a low, difficult pitch and hit the Nats’ third home run of the night, a solo shot to left-center. The score became 5-2.

The Padres would tack on another run to Roark. Catcher Christian Bethancourt grounded out to Espinosa, scoring Upton, Jr. The Padres would threaten with other baserunners in the inning, but Roark escaped the jam. Roark was pulled after the inning after giving up four runs on seven hits while striking out five batters, earning the win.

In the top of the seventh, first baseman Clint Robinson added the Nationals’ sixth run of the night with a sacrifice fly out to centerfield off reliever Brad Hand.

Two innings later, the Nats would score their final two runs, bringing the score to 8-4. Bethancourt attempted a pick-off of Ben Revere at third base. A throwing error scored Revere and advanced Werth to third base. With Werth on third, Harper hit a soft, floating liner to center that was trapped by centerfielder Travis Jankowski. Harper had two hits and three RBI on the night.

In the bottom of the ninth, reliever Felipe Rivero would come on to close the game, but gave up two hits and one run while only getting one out. Newly named closer Shawn Kelley replaced him and got the final two outs. Kelley earned the save and the Nats won 8-5.

 

Joe Ross (5-4, 3.01 ERA) will face his former team and Christian Friedrich (3-1, 2.12 ERA) on Friday night at 10:40 EST.

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