In Ross Ohlendorf’s first start off the disabled list, he appeared to run out of gas in the fifth inning, when he allowed three hits and three runs in what eventually turned into an 11-6 Nationals win over the Cubs.
Tonight, Ohlendorf is through five - and he’s still going strong.
The veteran right-hander has delivered five scoreless frames, allowing just two hits thus far. He’s thrown just 74 pitches, and while Tanner Roark has started warming in the Nationals bullpen, Ohlendorf hasn’t shown any signs of tiring just yet.
He was perfect through three innings, but gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the fourth. The Marlins then loaded the bases with one out, but Ohlendorf struck out Ed Lucas and then got Justin Ruggiano to ground into a forceout to end the threat and the inning.
The Nats have staked Ohlendorf a 2-0 lead, with both runs coming in the first inning.
Jayson Werth tallied his 59th RBI of the season on a groundout to third and Ian Desmond followed with a single to center, bringing in another run.
Desmond now has 63 RBIs on the season, tops on the team.
The atmosphere isn’t all that lively here tonight, with perhaps the smallest Nats Park crowd of the season. But the Nats have gotten off to a nice start in the opener of a six-game homestand.
Update: Well, that came right on cue.
One batter into the sixth inning, Ohlendorf’s shutout is gone and Ohlendorf is gone, too.
Yelich took Ohlendorf’s 78th pitch of the night into the Nationals bullpen in right for a solo shot, and just like that, Davey Johnson came out to get him.
Ohlendorf is still likely building up arm strength as he comes back from the DL, and Johnson must have seen something leading up to the sixth, which is why he had Roark warm and ready to go.
Still, it’s a strong outing for Ohlendorf, who allowed just the one run on three hits over five-plus innings.
Roark got into a little trouble after coming on to relieve Ohlendorf, surrendering back-to-back walks to Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison, but he then got two straight strikeouts to get out of the jam and keep the Nats up 2-1.
The rookie now has allowed just two earned runs over 17 1/3 innings with 14 strikeouts and four walks.
Update II: Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard did their jobs, each putting up a 1-2-3 frame to send us to the bottom of the eighth with the Nats still leading 2-1.
Storen struck out pinch-hitter Juan Pierre to end a perfect seventh and then Clippard mowed down the top three hitters in Miami’s order in the eighth, including a dominating three-pitch strikeout of Stanton to end the frame.
Three straight fastballs from Clippard set down Stanton - one of the most dangerous hitters around - in a hurry. Good morning, good afternoon, good night.
Now it’s time for Rafael Soriano in the ninth. Take a deep breath, folks.
Update III: That was fairly easy. Soriano allowed a two-out single to Justin Ruggiano in the ninth but worked a scoreless frame, and the Nats held on for a 2-1 win.
Ohlendorf improves to 3-0 on the season, Soriano gets his 34th save and the Nats start off their stretch of 19 straight games against sub-.500 teams with a win.
The Nats are back to a game over .500 at 66-65, and the Reds currently trail the Cardinals 2-0 in the fifth. A Cincinnati loss would cut the Nationals’ deficit in the wild card race to seven games.