Roark bounces back with dominant outing

Roark bounces back with dominant outing

WASHINGTON -- Tanner Roark followed up one of his worst outings this season with seven scoreless innings against the Phillies, as the surging Nationals triumphed 8-0 on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park.

It's what Roark did with his bat that excited Dusty Baker most, though the Nationals' manager was plenty pleased with what the right-hander did on the mound, as well.

On some level, that aspect was expected. Roark (5-4) previously faced the Phillies twice this season and dominated. That version didn't show up in his prior outing, as the right-hander only lasted three innings on Sunday at Cincinnati after allowing five runs and seven hits.

With an assortment of effective out pitches and the comfort of plenty of run support, the dominating Roark returned. He struck out seven while allowing six hits -- with only three hits coming over the final five innings.

Roark also had his first RBI this season during Washington's four-run second inning. The Nationals have won nine of 12.

Stephen Drew's single off Aaron Nola (5-5) put Washington up, 1-0, with runners on the corners with one out. With Roark facing a 2-2 count, Baker called for a bunt. Roark deftly pushed his bunt toward first, which Phillies first baseman Tommy Joseph fielded and threw late trying to catch a streaking Anthony Rendon at home.

Roark's RBI squeeze bunt

"The play of the game is when he got that two-strike bunt down that kind of opened the gates," Baker said. "I think guys were more excited about that than anything."

Roark later scored on Bryce Harper's single for a 4-0 lead. Washington added another three in the fifth and one in the eighth.

With the way Roark works, talk about overkill. He has now allowed three earned runs or fewer 10 times in 13 starts.

"[Roark] was strong," Baker said. "He was especially sharp this time, except for that one inning when he had to get out of trouble."

The Cincinnati performance screamed aberration, based on his overall work. Two batters into the second inning against the Phillies, it was reasonable to wonder whether Roark remained on a rocky road.

Roark escapes jam

Cody Asche opened with a single and took third on Cameron Rupp's double. Roark quickly closed the threatening situation by striking out Cesar Hernandez, Nola and Peter Bourjos.

"That was a big confidence-builder," said Roark, who is 2-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three starts against Philadelphia. "I was just trying to attack the guys, keep them off balance."

Roark found himself in another jam one inning later, but Joseph lined into an inning-ending double play. The Phillies mustered little from there. Don't feel bad, Philadelphia. Against Roark this season, few have.

Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore and covered the Nationals on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.