SAN DIEGO — Tanner Roark of the Washington Nationals probably wishes he could face the punchless San Diego Padres a few more times this season.
Roark pitched three-hit ball for eight innings, struck out a career-high 11 and walked none, and Anthony Rendon hit a two-run homer Friday night to lead the Nationals to a 6-0 victory against the Padres.
In two starts against the Padres this season, he has allowed only six hits in 17 scoreless innings, struck out 19 and walked one.
“Everything felt good coming out of my hand,” he said. “That’s a plus.”
The right-hander took a one-hitter into the eighth before Rene Rivera hit a leadoff single and pinch-hitter Tommy Medica had a one-out base hit.
Roark (4-4) beat the Padres 4-0 at Washington on April 26th, throwing a three-hitter for his first career shutout. He struck out eight that game, his previous career high.
Roark said the key was throwing first-pitch strikes.
“That really gets a hitter on his heels and gives you confidence,” he said. “I don’t try to strike guys out. I just try to make quality pitches. Strikeouts happen. Today everything was working.”
Said manager Matt Williams: “He’s just been pitching like that for us all year. He just continues to pound the zone, all of his pitches. Pretty impressive.”
The Nationals won their fourth straight and for the sixth time in seven games.
“Same thing he showed over in Washington,” Padres manager Bud Black said of Roark. “Mixed his pitches, changed his speeds, commanded his fastball a little bit different than in his start in Washington. In Washington, he used his curveballs, more changeups.”
San Diego has just 15 hits in five games. On Wednesday, Everth Cabrera bunted for a single in the first inning for San Diego’s only hit in a 3-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“You have to keep going through it,” Black said. “You have to keep your nose to the grindstone and keep working. There is no magic formula to this. You keep working, you keep busting your butt in the cage, you keep watching video, you keep your confidence, you keep telling yourself you’re going to have good at-bats, you stay together as a team, you hang in there in the hopes that it will turn.”
Padres starter Tyson Ross (6-5) had a bad night. He walked Washington’s Denard Span to open the game and then allowed Rendon’s homer to left field, his ninth.
Rendon, the third baseman, came out after grounding out in the sixth. He was struck in the right hand trying to field Carlos Quentin’s smash in the fourth inning and committed a throwing error. He committed a fielding error the next inning. Williams said X-rays were negative.
Ross was chased during a nightmarish four-run sixth inning in which he had a throwing error, wild pitch, walked two, hit a batter and allowed two hits. Ross allowed an RBI double to Wilson Ramos that bounced over the fence in right-center and then walked Ian Desmond to load the bases. Ross hit Danny Espinosa on the left knee to force in a run and Nate McClouth hit a two-run single to right to end Ross’ night.
Ross allowed six runs, five earned, on five hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out seven and walked three.
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