Nationals hit Santana and Braves early to grab lead (Nats win 4-1)

Braves right-hander Ervin Santana has lost two in a row, to the Rockies and the Phillies. He has given up 10 runs, nine of them earned during those stints.

He came in 0-0 with a 3.67 ERA in four career starts against the Nationals, allowing 11 runs and 24 hits in 27 innings with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks.

On Sunday, the Nationals jumped on him quickly in the first inning.

After almost plunking the hot-hitting Anthony Rendon on his first delivery, Santana walked him.

Jayson Werth followed with a single. Adam LaRoche brought Rendon home with a base hit and the Nationals led 1-0.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a fly ball deep to center field to score Werth and it was 2-0 Nationals.

Right-hander Tanner Roark has won three straight decisions, despite only five innings and seven hits allowed against the Astros.

He made it through today's first two innings unscathed, allowing only a Freddie Freeman single.

Ian Desmond made a spectacular spinning play, fielding and throwing to nab Chris Johnson at first base to end the top of the second, getting a thundering response from the capacity crowd at Nationals Park.

And the Nationals lead 2-0 after two frames.

Update: Roark is dealing. With five innings in, he has allowed two hits, both singles, two walks and has struck out two. Most importantly, he has allowed no runs. The Nationals have kept the Braves scoreless for 14 straight innings. Roark's pitch count is at 84, however.

The Nationals lead the Braves 2-0 at the halfway mark.

Update II: Sandy Leon led off the fifth with a single. After a Roark sacrifice - pitchers have done a good job of advancing runners the last two games - Denard Span cranked a run-scoring double and the Nationals lead 3-0.

Update III: Justin Upton's run-scoring single got Atlanta on the board, cutting the Nationals' lead to 3-1.

Chris Johnson struck out swinging against Craig Stammen before arguing with home plate umpire Mark Carlson about first base umpire Tim Welke saying Johnson did not check his swing. Carlson tossed Johnson. Manager Fredi Gonzalez than argued with Carlson, but remained in the game.

Roark finished 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and three walks while striking out three. He threw 96 pitches, 66 for strikes.

Update IV: The Nationals scored a run in the eighth thanks to a wild pitch by Luis Avilan. Rendon doubled with one out, and moved to third on a groundout. With LaRoche batting, Rendon scored on the Avilan errant pitch that got away from Evan Gattis, giving the Nats a 4-1 lead.

Rafael Soriano fired a scoreless ninth for his 17th save, striking out the side. Justin Upton was tossed by Carlson after arguing about his strikeout.

The Nationals won 4-1 to split the series and extend their National League East lead to 1 1/2 games. Roark is now 7-4 while Santana is 5-5.

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