Zimmerman blasts Nats to early lead (and hits another, Roark rolling)

One night after being clobbered 7-0 by the Marlins, the Nationals are off to a much better start at Marlins Park.

Denard Span opened the game with a leadoff single, extending his career-long hitting streak to 18 games, during which he is batting .414 (29-for-70). Ryan Zimmerman then stepped to the plate and mashed a two-run homer to center field, his 18th of the year.

Zimmeman’s blast was initially ruled a double, but after a quick review, the umpires changed it to a home run. Replays on MASN showed the ball clear the scoreboard, bounce off the center-field sculpture and ricochet back into play.

That gave the Nats a 2-0 lead in the first, providing Tanner Roark some margin for error before even taking the mound for his first career start.

Update: Zimmerman led off the third with his second home run in as many at-bats tonight, increasing the Nats’ lead to 3-0 with his 19th longball of the year.

This one has a similar feel to May 29 in Baltimore, when Zimmerman homered in his first three at-bats. He now has 12 multi-homer games in his career.

Later in the third, the Nats tacked on a pair of runs on Wilson Ramos’ two-run single for a 5-0 advantage.

Roark has backed up that offensive outburst by retiring the first six batters he’s faced on just 19 pitches (12 strikes). He has fanned two and is on his way to showing that his success in the bullpen just might be able to translate to the rotation.

Update II: Roark began his first career start with three perfect innings before running into his first trouble in the fourth.

Two of the first three batters reached to open the frame before Roark got out of it by getting Giancarlo Stanton to ground into a double play.

Roark has allowed two hits, walked none and struck out three over four scoreless innings.

Update III: The Nats increased their lead to 6-0 in the sixth when Span’s sacrifice fly scored Tyler Moore.

Roark then kept the Marlins in check with a sixth scoreless frame. He has thrown just 71 pitches so far.

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