ST. LOUIS - Jayson Werth got the road trip started on a positive note early on tonight.
Boy, did he ever.
Werth demolished a 2-2 curveball from Adam Wainwright way out to left field for a two-run shot in the top of the first inning, giving the Nationals a 2-0 lead right off the bat.
It was an absolute bomb, one that nearly traveled to the “Big Mac Land” sign on the facade of the second deck in left field.
The Cardinals estimated the ball traveled 439 feet, which sounds about right.
It was Werth’s 24th homer of the season, bringing him to within two of Ryan Zimmerman for the team lead.
Since that Werth blast, however, the Nats have managed very little off Wainwright, going 2-for-their-last-12. The two hits came on consecutive one-out singles by Bryce Harper and Ian Desmond in the fourth, but Wainwright bounced back to get Adam LaRoche to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Like Wainwright, Tanner Roark has allowed two runs through four innings.
Roark has needed to battle a bit more, as he’s allowed six hits through four and worked into a jam in the fourth when the Cardinals plated a run to tie the game and had two runners in scoring position.
But the rookie right-hander dialed up 94 mph on the radar gun on back-to-back pitches and locked up Matt Carpenter on a heater on the inside corner to end the inning.
Roark has now worked 45 2/3 innings as a big leaguer this season, and he’s still allowed just two extra-base hits, both of which were doubles.
We’re tied at 2-2 going to the fifth.
Update: I guess I jinxed him.
Roark served up a two-run homer to Carlos Beltran two batters into the fifth, giving the Cardinals a 4-2 lead. It’s the first homer Roark has surrendered this season.
He’s allowed nine hits through five innings of work tonight - the worst start of his brief career, but that’s not saying much. Roark has been tremendous, and while he allowed four runs through five innings tonight, that’s by no means an embarrassing effort against a very good-hitting team.
Here’s Roark’s final line: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 97 pitches, 67 strikes.