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Nationals Fall to Darvish, Rangers 2-0

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WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: Tanner Roark #57 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Nationals Park on June 1, 2014 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 01: Tanner Roark #57 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Nationals Park on June 1, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON — More often than not, Tanner Roark would be delighted about giving up one run over seven innings.

Unfortunately, pitching against the Texas Rangers and Yu Darvish on Sunday, Roark’s fine effort wasn’t good enough to get a win for the Washington Nationals.

Darvish struck out 12 over eight innings, Leonys Martin broke a scoreless duel with a solo shot off Roark in the seventh and Texas escaped with a 2-0 victory to avert a three-game sweep.

Roark (3-4) gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out four. Except for a single pitch, he was every bit as effective as Darvish.

“He made one mistake to Martin, a changeup that was up in the strike zone,” Washington manager Matt Williams said. “Other than that, he matched him perfectly.”

Roark has lost three straight starts but owns a 3.25 ERA and has allowed only eight earned runs over his last 32 2-3 innings. In this one, he kept the Rangers at bay until Martin pulled an 0-1 pitch into the Nationals bullpen beyond the right-field wall.

“It was just a bad changeup. It was up and I didn’t throw it with conviction,” Roark said. “That’s how it’s been the past couple games, just one pitch. I’ve got to eliminate that from my repertoire.”

The Rangers won despite losing an apparent run in a rare double challenge on the same play. Managers Ron Washington of Texas and Williams lodged separate complaints after a double steal in the first inning.

Pitching for the first time since May 22 after missing his last turn with a stiff neck, Darvish (5-2) gave up five hits and walked two in dropping his ERA to 2.08. The right-hander matched his season high in strikeouts and overpowered a club that amassed 19 runs in the first two games of the series.

“That team for two days just swung the bats at will, threw the ball around the ballpark, out of the ballpark,” Washington said. “We certainly needed to try to slow them down, and (Darvish) did that. He slowed them down. Yu was good today. He was very good. When the team needed him to be very good, he was.”

Joakim Soria worked a perfect ninth to earn his 11th save and seal Texas’ major league-leading 11th shutout.

Darvish struck out the side in the second and fanned two in each of the next three innings before encountering trouble in the sixth. One-out singles by Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche put runners at first and third before Darvish struck out Wilson Ramos and retired Ian Desmond on a deep fly to right field.

Darvish yielded a two-out walk in the seventh and left after a 1-2-3 eighth.

“We just needed Yu to pitch well,” Washington said, “and he pitched well.”

Joakim Soria worked a perfect ninth to earn his 11th save and seal Texas’ major league-leading 11th shutout.

Darvish struck out the side in the second and fanned two in each of the next three innings before encountering trouble in the sixth. One-out singles by Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche put runners at first and third before Darvish struck out Wilson Ramos and retired Ian Desmond on a deep fly to right field.

One inning later, Martin connected. It was his third home run in 183 at-bats this season and ended the Rangers’ run of homerless games at six.

Donnie Murphy added an RBI single off Drew Storen in the eighth. Murphy had a season-high three hits and was flawless in his first career game at first base.

In the first inning, both managers talked to the umpires. With two outs and runners on the corners, Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios executed a double steal. Rios was called out for coming off second base after the steal, but umpires ruled Andrus crossed the plate before the tag.

The Texas manager challenged the call at second and Williams insisted the out occurred before Andrus crossed the plate. After replays were reviewed over a span of 2 minutes, 45 seconds, Texas lost its challenge and the Nationals’ assertion was confirmed.

In the bottom half, Ramos looked at a third strike with two outs and runners at first and third. It was the first of five straight strikeouts for Darvish.

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(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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