The right-hander labored through four innings Sunday, allowing four runs on 10 hits in a 10-2 loss to the Marlins.
Miami pounded out a season-high 22 hits - 20 singles and two doubles - in salvaging the final game of the four-game set. It was the Marlins’ first win over the Nationals since Aug. 9, 2017, snapping a major league-leading 14-game winning streak for the Nationals over a single opponent.
The Marlins scored three runs on four hits in the second. Miami enjoyed five singles in a span of six batters between the first and second frames. A two-run single by J.T. Realmuto finished off the rally in the second inning.
The Marlins strung together three more hits in the fourth inning. JT Riddle’s RBI single made it 4-2 Miami.
Roark (3-11) had difficulty maintaining control of his pitches. The Marlins connected on 10 singles and Roark handed out three free passes and hit two batters. It was his fifth loss in a row.
The veteran had no answer as to why his pitches were floating up in the zone: “Good question, next.”
Manager Davey Martinez said that he and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist will focus this week during his bullpen sessions on getting Roark to pitch down in the zone.
“We are going to have to sit down and figure this whole thing out with him because I know he’s better than that and so does he,” Martinez said. “We talk about him throwing the ball down, and he goes through a stretch where he gets the ball down and he looks really good, and then he elevates again and he gets hit.
“We got to get him to believe that he could throw the ball down. The numbers indicate when he’s down, he’s really good. So we are going to talk to him, Lilly and I, and work on some things in his next bullpen on flat ground and see if we can get him down there consistently.”
It got so bad for the Nats bullpen in the ninth that infielder Mark Reynolds replaced Ryan Madson as pitcher and recorded the final out of the inning. The Nats ended up using four relief pitchers and Reynolds for the final 15 outs.
Reynolds got pinch-hitter Bryan Holaday to roll over to first base.
“I always said I was going to do all this stuff when I got out there,” Reynolds said. “I was so nervous. Home plate looked a mile away. Trying not to hit anybody. It was a little nerve-wracking.”
Reynolds said he sped up so much that his timing was off when he got ready to pitch.
“I think I came set one time and the batter wasn’t even in the box yet,” he said. “I was going a mile a minute. I definitely didn’t slow the game down at all for me right there. I always wanted to do it. It was a cool experience.”
Martinez said Reynolds had told him he wanted to pitch if they ever got into a jam where they needed to save pitchers.
“I told him I’ve been around a long time and that’s the only thing I really haven’t done yet is pitch,” Reynolds said. “(Bench coach) Chip Hale kind of looked at me and goes, ‘Hey, you ready?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready, let’s do it’. I didn’t cover first though, I forgot my PF’s.”
Pitching problems continue to plague the Nationals, who are getting little consistency from their starters. Roark is struggling, Gio Gonzalez has had uneven performances recently, and Jeremy Hellickson is working his way back from a lat injury. They will have to go with youngster Jefry Rodriguez on Monday in Pittsburgh. Stephen Strasburg will need to make a minor league rehab start or two before he returns from the disabled list.
“Our starters got to go deeper in the game, they do,” Martinez said. “If we are going to win consistently, they got to pitch. It’s hard to leave Tanner in the game with 102 pitches after the fourth inning.”
Adam Conley (3-1) earned the win for the Marlins, firing two scoreless innings, allowing no hits and striking out four.
Daniel Murphy provided all the runs for the Nats with an RBI single in the second and a sacrifice fly to left field in the third. Trea Turner struck out four times. Reynolds had a double, a single, a walk and scored a run.
The Nats failed in an attempt to gain ground in the National League East on the Phillies and Braves, who both lost. They remain five games back of both teams, who are tied for the top spot.