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Washington Nationals flash leather in victory over Seattle Mariners

By
David Driver, The Sports Xchange
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the second inning at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 2017. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark (57) pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the second inning at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 2017. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Nationals flashed plenty of leather Wednesday night, and that was a welcome sight for starting pitcher Tanner Roark, who had given up 11 earned runs in his previous two starts.

His teammates came up with several stellar defensive plays, including some gems by center fielder Michael A. Taylor, as Roark allowed one run in seven innings in the Nationals' 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. The Nationals scored four in the first and one in the second after Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the first.

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Taylor robbed Robinson Cano of a homer in the third and stole a hit on a liner from Kyle Seager in the fifth.

Taylor went over the fence to rob Cano of a homer, though the ball fell out of his glove for a double. Ryan Zimmerman made several adroit catches and tags at first base and Roark even threw out Seager when he tried to reach on a bunt to start the third.

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"Mikey was the player of the game defensively," Roark said. "He made that home run saver. He was all over the field. Great job."

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Roark entered the game with a 4.73 ERA after posting a mark of 2.83 last year.

"It was good to get runs on the board early," Roark said. "The two-seamer was moving. You have to make them hit your pitch. That is the biggest thing. I was gripping the ball too tight. You have to treat it like an egg."

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The Nationals got a three-run homer in the first from Anthony Rendon, who went deep for the second night in a row after hitting two Tuesday.

"I was leaving the ball up," Seattle starter Sam Gaviglio said. "I got away from my game plan there in the first and it showed."

Roark (4-2), looking like the pinpoint pitcher from 2016, allowed eight hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.

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Washington reliever Enny Romero allowed a hit but got two outs in the eighth and Shawn Kelley got the last out with a runner on base. Koda Glover pitched a perfect ninth for the Nationals, who handed Seattle its fifth loss in a row.

Gaviglio (0-1), in his third major league appearance, gave up five runs (one earned) and six hits with two walks and one strikeout in six innings. He was around the plate all night, for better or worse, and threw 73 pitches -- 53 for strikes.

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Does he think he will get another chance to start?

"Hopefully. I need to be better than that coming out of the first inning," he said.

Cano was 3-for-4 and Guillermo Heredia had two hits for Seattle, which is 0-8 all time in the nation's capital. In the second game of the interleague series first-place Washington improved to 28-17 while last-place Seattle fell to 20-27.

Washington catcher Matt Wieters extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the eighth.

Seattle took a 1-0 lead in the first on an RBI single by Cano, who came off the disabled list Tuesday.

The Nationals scored four unearned runs in the first off Gaviglio, who turned 27 on Monday and was making the second start of his major league career.

Turner reached on an error by fellow shortstop Jean Segura to lead off the last of the first. Turner stole second and went to third when Bryce Harper flied out to right. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Zimmerman.

Rendon hit a three-run homer later in the first.

"He is a tough out," Roark said of Rendon. "He knows the strike zone very well, he doesn't chase. That is what makes him an elite hitter."

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Roark bounced back after two bad starts.

"I think he was trying too hard," manager Dusty Baker said of Roark.

NOTES: With rain in the forecast, the Thursday game slated for 4:05 p.m. has been moved up to 12:05 p.m. in the series finale. ... Seattle called up RHP Rob Whalen from Triple-A Tacoma and sent RHP Emilio Pagan to Tacoma in a corresponding move. Whalen was with Seattle on May 5 but did not make an appearance ... The Mariners acquired minor league OF Andrew Aplin from the Houston Astros on Wednesday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. ... Washington OF Chris Heisey (right biceps strain) went on the 10-day disabled list just before the game and OF Brian Goodwin was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. Mid-Atlantic Sports Network cameras showed Heisey grimacing after he swung at a pitch during batting practice Wednesday, and he walked away from the cage. Heisey said after the game he will get an MRI on Thursday but said he feels certain he will return at some point this year. "It is fun to be a part of the team," Heisey said.

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