Roark, Zimmerman help Nats maul Marlins (Harper aggravates hip)

Tanner Roark had a 2-0 lead before he even took the mound Saturday night and a 5-0 lead before the game was three innings old.

That had to ease any of the rookie pitcher’s nerves as he made his first major league start following nine impressive relief appearances with the Nationals.

Roark looked about as in control as he possibly could, retiring his first nine batters on his way to an efficient six scoreless innings to improve to 5-0 with a 0.94 ERA in the majors this year. He threw just 71 pitches before giving way to the bullpen.

That was crucial to the Nats’ 9-2 victory over the Marlins, the team’s third in four games as it tries to keep its slim postseason hopes alive. Washington stayed eight games behind the Reds for the National League’s second wild card.

Every Nats starting position player had at least one hit.

Ryan Zimmerman led the offense by homering in his first two at-bats for his second multi-homer game of the season and the 12th of his career.

Denard Span added two hits in extending his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games. Jayson Werth and Anthony Rendon each contributed three hits while Wilson Ramos and Tyler Moore each drove in two runs.

With that, the Nats moved back to three games over .500 at 72-69. They’ll look to take the weekend series from the Marlins with Stephen Strasburg on the hill tomorrow afternoon.

Update: During “Nats Xtra” on MASN, manager Davey Johnson said Bryce Harper aggravated his hip injury while working in the cage before the game, which led to the outfielder being a late scratch.

Harper will fly back to Washington to be evaluated and the hope is he’ll be able to meet the team in New York.

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