Starting pitchers controlling game early (Angels win 4-2)

The Nationals’ Tanner Roark struck out three of the first four batters he faced in tonight’s opening game of their three-game set with the Los Angeles Angels.

The Angels got a pair of hits in the second and a walk, but Roark worked out of that with a strikeout of Angels starter Garrett Richards to end the inning.

In the third, J.B. Shuck was originally called out at first on a grounder to second as he dove for the bag. The Angels requested a video replay review and the call was overturned. Mike Trout followed with a clean base hit and the Angels had men on first and third with no out. A sharp grounder by Albert Pujols to Ian Desmond was turned into a 6-4-3 double play. Ian Stewart flew out to center to end the third.

In the Nationals third, Jose Lobaton tried to stretch a single into a double but was tagged out at second on a nice throw by Shuck.

The game is scoreless after three innings.

Richard has allowed one hit and struck out three batters.

Update: Richards had great difficulty controlling his pitches in the fourth. He allowed two walks, a wild pitch and a hit by pitch in the first three at-bats of the inning. Denard Span and Bryce Harper walked. Jayson Werth was hit by pitch and was none to pleased walking to first. Pujols tried to calm him down after the plunking.

Adam LaRoche’s fielder’s choice scored Span and the Nationals led 1-0.

Harper was then tagged out at home on a fielder’s choice and Desmond’s broken-bat grounder to second ended the inning.

Update II: An all-around impressive night at the office for Roark. He went 6 2/3 innings, scattering seven hits with no runs allowed, with two walks (one of which was intentional) and five strikeouts. Roark tossed 105 pitches, 63 for strikes. It was his first home start of the season and he continued his dominance at Nationals Park, lowering his career ERA to 0.35 at home. He has allowed one earned run in 26 innings of work over eight games at Nationals Park.

Update III: The Angels broke through against reliever Tyler Clippard in the eighth. It was a booted ball by Ian Desmond - the first of his two errors in the inning - on a Pujols grounder that started the rally, which led to four unearned runs. Later, Erik Aybar’s run-scoring single with two outs tied the game at 1-1.

But that was not the end of the rough inning for Clippard. After a walk to Chris Iannetta loaded the bases, pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez crushed a three-run double to deep left-center and the Angels led 4-1.

Update IV: Leading off the bottom of the ninth, Desmond slammed his fourth homer of the season, a solo shot off of Angels right-hander Ernesto Frieri, cutting the Los Angeles lead to 4-2.

Frieri then struck out Danny Espinosa and Jose Lobaton. Pinch-hitter Nate McLouth induced a walk and took second on defensive indifference. Span struck out to end the game.

The Nationals were held to just three hits and lost the first game of the series 4-2. Clippard does not allow an earned run, but takes the loss to fall to 1-2. Fernando Salas earned the win. Frieri notched his second save.

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