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Roark dominates Padres for second time this season

Starter gives up just three hits in eight innings and strikes out 11

SAN DIEGO -- It appears right-hander Tanner Roark has the Padres' number. For the second time this year, Roark was almost unhittable against San Diego, as the Nationals blanked the Padres, 6-0, at Petco Park on Friday night.

On April 26, Roark dominated the Padres at Nationals Park, allowing just three hits in a 4-0 affair. It wasn't any different Friday. Roark allowed three hits in eight innings, a double to Yonder Alonso in the third and singles to Rene Rivera and Tommy Medica in the eighth inning.

"He has been pitching like that for us all year," manager Matt Williams said. "I saw a stat today. He has nine quality starts for us this year. That's really good. He continues to pound the zone -- all of his pitches. Pretty impressive."

Roark doesn't have an answer as to why he dominates the Padres. All he is worried about is getting outs. He is not considered a strikeout pitcher, but he had a career high 11 on this night.

"I have no idea. I'm just doing my thing. I'm throwing strikes, not worried about what team we are facing." Roark said. "Everything felt good. It's always a plus. I wasn't holding anything back. I'm not trying to make perfect pitches. I'm throwing it and letting it go. If the hitter sees all the same arm action like a fastball, then you get them."

The Padres felt they were at a disadvantage with Roark on the mound. Even when they were ahead in the count, it spelled trouble for the Padres.

"Not even in a hitter's count, he doesn't give you much," Alonso said. "He is not on the [white part of the plate]. He lives on the edges. And he has a lot of late life [on his pitches]."

Padres manager Bud Black, a former Major League pitcher himself, understands why Roark has dominated his team this year.

"He's pitched very well [during] two games against us," Black said. "We're not swinging the bats collectively very well. You can look at the pitcher and say, 'Hey, you threw a good game.' Other times, it's on the offense, their at-bats might not be up to the norm. The case was tonight, that guy threw a good ballgame. He darted his fastball. [His] fastball command was good. [Roark] had good change of speeds, but it was more about fastball command. He just didn't throw many balls down the middle of the plate."

Roark was given run support early in the contest. Anthony Rendon, who was celebrating his 24th birthday, put Washington on the board, hitting a two-run homer against right-hander Tyson Ross.

Rendon would later leave the game because of a sore right thumb. He hurt it while committing an error in the fourth inning on a ball hit off the bat of Carlos Quentin. X-rays on Rendon's thumb were negative. He is listed as day to day.

"I feel all right. Pretty sore," Rendon said. "I really didn't feel it. It just went straight to numbness."

Washington added four runs against Ross in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second, Wilson Ramos doubled over the head of right fielder Seth Smith, scoring Ryan Zimmerman.

Ian Desmond then walked to load the bases before Danny Espinosa was hit by a pitch, scoring Adam LaRoche. Nate McLouth followed and singled to right field, scoring Ramos and Desmond.

The Nationals have won four straight games and six out of their last seven to improve their record to 31-28.

"We are feeling good. We are feeling strong," Roark said. "Everybody is hitting. Pitchers are pitching. We are putting together quality starts. The relievers are coming in and shutting down [hitters] when they need to come in. We are playing good team baseball."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats.
Read More: Washington Nationals, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark, Danny Espinosa