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Marquez stymies red-hot Nationals' offense

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- In one of the best starts of his young career, Rockies right-hander German Marquez carried a perfect game into the sixth inning against the National League's top scoring offense as he led the Rockies to a 4-2 victory Saturday night at Nationals Park.

"I really wasn't thinking about it," said Marquez, who struck out nine in each of his previous two starts. "I was just trying to pound the zone, hit my target and get hitters out."

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WASHINGTON -- In one of the best starts of his young career, Rockies right-hander German Marquez carried a perfect game into the sixth inning against the National League's top scoring offense as he led the Rockies to a 4-2 victory Saturday night at Nationals Park.

"I really wasn't thinking about it," said Marquez, who struck out nine in each of his previous two starts. "I was just trying to pound the zone, hit my target and get hitters out."

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Marquez struck out a career-high 10 in seven innings of two-run ball to lead Colorado -- which currently sits in the second National League Wild Card spot, a game behind the D-backs and five games ahead of the Brewers -- to just its fourth road win in the past 20 games. Marquez's was just seventh start in Rockies history that was perfect through at least five. Matt Wieters ended the bid with a one-out single in the sixth.

Video: COL@WSH: Black on Marquez's strong pitching ability

"Tonight, German set the tone with an ultra-aggressive mindset of just throwing good strikes," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I saw the confidence grow, from the first hitter of the game."

Right-hander Pat Neshek made his Rockies debut with a scoreless eighth and Greg Holland, activated before the game from paternity leave, secured the victory with his 32nd save in 33 tries.

Video: COL@WSH: Holland gets Harper to fly out for the save

Nationals starter Tanner Roark seemed to have turned a corner after a rocky first half but struggled again Saturday, with a pitch count preventing him from going deep into the game. The right-hander allowed four runs in five innings with four walks, and struck out eight.

"He was wild, wide off the plate," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "Every time you try to go away, it would be off the plate....Just tonight his pitch count got high. He had four walks, which is quite a bit for him. It just wasn't sharp tonight."

Video: COL@WSH: Baker talks about offensive woes in loss

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Breaking up the perfect game: Marquez stifled the Nationals' offense until Wieters finally broke through with a one-out single in the sixth to help spark a rally for the Nats. Howie Kendrick then doubled in his first at-bat for the Nats since he was traded from the Phillies on Friday, which set the stage for a two-out, two-run single by Wilmer Difo to put Washington on the board.

Video: COL@WSH: Kendrick doubles for his first hit as a Nat

"I think that's the big thing just try to get it rolling," Wieters said. "We know with our lineup, it's deep where if we can get rolling we can put up a big inning. We were able to get two there which was big the way he was pitching, but it just kind of stopped there."

Marquez rebounded to strike out Bryce Harper, who represented the tying run, to end the threat. Marquez continued to stay on a roll on the mound lately, and after striking out nine batters in each of his previous two starts he finally reached the double-digit mark.

Back-to-back doubles: The Rockies got on the board in the second inning thanks to a two-run homer from Trevor Story, but their offense fell quiet until the fifth inning when a pair of back-to-back doubles off Roark gave them a comfortable lead.

Video: COL@WSH: Story lifts a two-run homer to right-center

Gerardo Parra struck first with a double to left field to drive home DJ LeMahieu, then Mark Reynolds followed with a double to right to score Parra and extend Colorado's lead to four.

Video: COL@WSH: Reynolds doubles to right, drives in Parra

"I had no idea what he [Roark] was going to throw me; I got lucky with a late-barrel double," Reynolds said.

"They're very tough," Roark said about the Rockies lineup. They don't strikeout much and they fouled off a lot of pitches and made me go deep into counts. They're a good hitting team."

Difo's new approach at the plate boosting Nationals

SCARY, THEN SMOOTH
New arrival Neshek made hearts skip with his first pitch, one that Adam Lind sent towering but just foul.

"I was trying to push it a little bit more in foul territory," Neshek said.

Video: COL@WSH: Neshek on first appearance with the Rockies

Neshek settled in to retire Lind on a hard grounder. He finished a spotless eighth by fanning pinch-hitter Pedro Severino.

"The first inning is always a tough one," Neshek said. "You have all new equipment, all new teammates. We went over signs before the inning started. I've got different shoes -- my feet are killing me right now. You've got a lot of weird little stuff going on, and then you've gotta go out and face a really good lineup like that. I'm really pleased with how it went."

WHAT'S NEXT
Rockies: Left-hander Kyle Freeland (10-7, 3.64 ERA), tied with teammate Antonio Senzatela for the MLB lead in rookie wins, will start the 11:35 a.m. MT opener of the doubleheader with the Nationals. Righty Jon Gray (3-1, 5.84), who is 3-1, 6.57 in five starts since returning from a stress fracture in his right foot, will open the nightcap at 5:05 p.m.

Nationals: Right-hander Erick Fedde, the Nats' top pitching prospect according to MLBPipeline and third-ranked prospect overall, will make his Major League debut during Game 1 of the doubleheader, slated for a 1:35 p.m. ET start. In the nightcap, right-hander Edwin Jackson will take the mound for a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.