By Michael Marzzacco
Stephen Strasburg continued his impressive and perfect year with his 13th win of the season. He finished with eight innings of three hit ball while striking out six.
Strasburg took a no-hitter into the fifth. It was broken up with a leadoff single by Starling Marte. Two batters later, the Pirates got on the board with an RBI single by Jordy Mercer.
The Nationals evened things up in the fifth. Clint Robinson got a base hit into centerfield that scored Wilson Ramos. In the seventh, Strasburg helped his own cause as his sacrifice bunt drove in the winning run. Danny Espinosa came in from third and beat the tag at the plate to put Washington up 2-1. Two batters later with Michael Taylor up, Pittsburgh reliever Neftali Feliz threw a wild pitch that scored Robinson. Strasburg advanced to second and Taylor homered on the third pitch over the right-centerfield wall. The Nats took the first game of the second half with a 5-1 win.
Strasburg is just the second pitcher in the last three decades to go 13-0, joining teammate Max Scherzer when he did it in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers.
Tanner Roark held the Pirates to five hits and nearly went the distance as the Nats took game two from the Bucs 6-0. The win moved Washington to 20 games over .500 for the first time all season and the first time since 2014. The Nats are in the driver’s seat in the NL East at first place and moved seven games ahead of the Mets and Marlins.
After a rain delay of one hour and 11 minutes the teams took the field. The Nats got things started in the first. An Anthony Rendon RBI single to left in the first inning brought home Jayson Werth and gave the Nats a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Danny Espinosa hit an RBI double to the right field corner that scored Stephen Drew. The Nats tacked on three more runs in the fourth. Tanner Roark helped his own cause. He hit a ground ball to second baseman Josh Harrison. Harrison’s throw to first went past first baseman John Jaso. Clint Robinson and Stephen Drew scored while Danny Espinosa advanced to third and Tanner Roark went to second. Ben Revere followed with a ground ball in the infield. Shortstop Jordy Mercer charged the ball and threw to home but Espinosa beat him to the plate. Rendon rounded out the scoring in the fifth with his 10th home run of the season into the Pirates bullpen in left-centerfield.
Roark went into the ninth inning with five strikeouts and allowing five hits. He wasn’t able to finish the game as he allowed a base hit and hit the next batter but as he exited the game the crowd at Nationals Park gave him a standing ovation. Roark improved his record to 9-5. Blake Treinen finished the game and the Nationals took the series against the Pirates. Washington will go for the sweep this afternoon. First pitch is at 1:35.