WASHINGTON (AP) — After striking out 13 times in an 11-1 loss to Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals on Friday night, the San Diego Padres had reason to look forward to facing a much less-imposing pitcher on Saturday.
But San Diego had even more trouble against right-hander Tanner Roark, who pitched a three-hitter for the first complete game of his career as the Nationals shut out the Padres 4-0.
The 27-year-old set down the first 16 batters before San Diego catcher Rene Rivera, an .074 batter entering the game, hit a solid single to center field with one out in the sixth inning. San Diego managed to get just two more singles in the game and didn’t get a runner past second base.
“He had a good sinker, changeup, was keeping the ball down especially,” said San Diego first baseman Yonder Alonzo, who went 0-for-3.
San Diego entered Saturday’s game tied for the second-worst batting average in the National League (.226) and saw it drop further. In a span of 19 hours and 18 innings, the Padres got 13 hits, all singles, and fanned 21 times.
When Saturday’s game was over, only two of the nine players San Diego started had batting averages better than .200 — shortstop Everth Cabrera (.300) and outfielder Chris Denorfia (.324).
“We do hope that the offense gets better, that guys get to their career averages – at some point,” manager Bud Black said.
San Diego struggled in many facets on Saturday. The Padres made three infield errors. Second baseman Jedd Gyorko would have had two had it not been for a generous ruling. Jayson Werth’s hopper up the middle might have been an inning-ending double-play. But after it was initially ruled an error, it was changed to a single. Either way, the play allowed Washington to grab a 3-0 lead in the first inning, all the runs the Nationals needed against Padres ace Andrew Cashner (2-3).
“What we’ve got to stay away from is the hitters letting their offense go into their defense,” Black said. “When you don’t score and you make a couple errors, they become magnified because it’s so important when you’re not scoring.”
Mixing three other pitches with his modest 92 mph fastball, Roark (2-0) walked one and struck out eight, including Gyorko to end the game on his 105th pitch.
“I was feeling confident out there on the mound, felling strong,” Roark said. “Getting ahead of the hitters is the biggest thing.”
Roark has been more than a one-hit wonder for the Nationals. Since taking his spot in the rotation, he has produced eight quality starts in 10 attempts with a 5-1 record. Roark extended his run of consecutive scoreless innings to 18. In 35 innings at Nationals Park he has given up one earned run.
On Saturday, he extended the frustrations of the Padres.
“We played terrible today, honestly,” Alonzo said. “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. Today we weren’t behind him. We didn’t play good defense. It was somewhat of an embarrassment.”
Washington increased its advantage to 4-0 in the sixth when Kevin Frandsen opened with a single, moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Roark, and scored on a single to left by Denard Span. Frandsen was starting in left field for Bryce Harper, who was out of the lineup with a jammed thumb.
Notes: X-rays on the jammed thumb of Harper were negative, according to manager Matt Williams, who said that Harper was undergoing an MRI after the game. Williams said that Harper was available to pinch-hit. … The Nationals had their second successful replay challenge in three games as Werth was ruled safe at second base, taking two bases on a booted ground ball. … Padres outfielder Seth Smith was out of the lineup for the second straight day and will remain day-to-day after suffering a strained groin Thursday night against the Nationals. He was scheduled to take cuts in the batting cage on Saturday and for light jogging on Sunday. … Washington right-hander Taylor Jordan (0-3, 6.23 ERA) will face San Diego right-hander Ian Kennedy (1-3, 3.60) on Sunday.