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Roark, Nationals shut down Padres

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Starting pitcher Tanner Roark spent nearly six years in the minor leagues before joining the Washington Nationals last season.

While he may have toiled in the minors, he has thrived in the majors.

Roark pitched a three-hit shutout for his first complete game and shortstop Ian Desmond collected three hits as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 4-0 on Saturday.

"Biggest thing was me and (catcher) Sandy (Leon) were on the same page for the most part, and location-wise I was hitting my spots," Roark said in the clubhouse, still dripping from a Gatorade bath courtesy of his teammates.

He retired the first 16 Padres before catcher Rene Rivera lined a single to center field beyond the reach of second baseman Danny Espinosa.

In his 10th start in the majors, the 27-year-old Roark (2-0) extended his scoreless innings streak to 18. He had not gone past seven innings with Washington prior to Saturday and had only one complete game in the minors.

"He was aggressive," manager Matt Williams said. "He threw a lot of really good changeups today for strikes -- that's one of his weapons. He keeps lefties off balance with that and his comeback fastball in to the lefties as well."

Roark began his minor league career in 2008. He was acquired by Washington from the Texas Rangers in 2010 and promoted to the Nationals last season.

He went 7-1 in 2013 with a 1.51 ERA in 14 games, including five starts. He lowered his 2014 ERA to 2.76 with Saturday's effort and became one of seven active pitchers to post nine or more wins in their first 10 career decisions.

"I guess you could say that. I just feel confident out there on the mound and feel strong and getting ahead of the hitters is the biggest thing," Roark said. "Strike one is the best pitch you can throw, so that's what I try to do."

The Padres' only threat came in the sixth inning. After Rivera's single, pitcher Andrew Cashner reached base when Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche bobbled his sacrifice bunt.

But Roark got shortstop Everth Cabrera on a foul fly to left and left fielder Chris Denorfia flied to center.

Roark threw 105 pitches, striking out eight and walking only one. Besides excellent command, he benefited early from two fine defensive plays.

Third baseman Anthony Rendon made a diving stop in the hole and threw out second baseman Jedd Gyorko leading off the second, and later executed a sliding backhand stop before throwing Gyorko out to start the fifth.

Cashner (2-3) endured his second straight subpar outing, following a loss at the Milwaukee Brewers. He went six innings and gave up four runs, while walking one and striking out five.

After pounding out 17 hits against the Padres on Friday night, the Nationals picked up Saturday where they left off.

Right fielder Jayson Werth added two hits for Washington, which was without left fielder Bryce Harper, who jammed his left thumb on Friday night.

Rendon and Werth singled off Cashner with one out in the first. LaRoche singled home Rendon and Desmond lined an opposite-field double to right, scoring Werth. LaRoche made it 3-0 when he scored on a sacrifice fly by second baseman Danny Espinosa.

"The two damning blows were the Desmond ball -- that pitch was out over the plate -- and LaRoche's base hit was out over the plate too, and those were back breakers," Padres manager Bud Black said.

San Diego also hurt itself with two errors -- one of which aided the Nationals' first-inning rally -- and the failure to convert a makeable play on Werth's hit, which was originally ruled an error on Gyorko.

"We played terrible today, honestly. We didn't defend, didn't hit, Cash kept us in the game. He always does, he's our ace, he will always keep us in the game," San Diego first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "Today we weren't behind him."

The Nationals added an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI-single by center fielder Denard Span, though the Padres showed no few signs of life.

Despite their anemic offense, San Diego (11-14) has hovered around the .500 mark.

"I don't know whether you can take solace in it," Black said. "We do hope our offense gets better, that the guys get to their career averages at some point."

NOTES: Nationals manager Matt Williams said OF Bryce Harper's left thumb was swollen and sore, and that Harper saw a hand specialist Saturday and was having an MRI. Kevin Frandsen started in his place, going 1-for-3 and scoring a run. ... 1B Adam LaRoche extended his hitting streak to 10 games, the longest by a Washington player this season. ... Padres OF Seth Smith (groin strain) missed his second straight game. ... San Diego's Ian Kennedy (1-3, 3.60 ERA) opposes Taylor Jordan (0-3, 6.23) in Sunday's series finale.

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