Roark outduels Bumgarner, Ramos homers in 1-0 victory

They didn’t have Stephen Strasburg or Max Scherzer at their disposal to face Madison Bumgarner. They had Tanner Roark, who right now is just as good.

Roark outdueled Bumgarner during a tense pitchers’ duel, then cheered from the dugout as Wilson Ramos homered off the Giants ace in the bottom of the seventh and the new-look back end of the Nationals bullpen closed out an awfully impressive 1-0 victory before a fired-up crowd of 32,790.

With seven scoreless innings, Roark improved to 12-6 with a 2.88 ERA. He has now tossed seven or more scoreless innings seven times in 23 starts this season, most in the majors.

Roark didn’t do it alone. Center fielder Ben Revere’s highlight-reel catch in the top of the seventh got the right-hander out of one of several jams he faced this afternoon. And Shawn Kelley and Mark Melancon finished it off with a scoreless inning a piece out of the bullpen, Melancon earning his first save since joining the Nationals last week.

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With the win, the Nationals took the season series from the Giants, 4-3, a potential tiebreaker that could come into play should the two first-place clubs meet again in October.

Bumgarner clearly was the more dominant of the two starters early in this game, failing to give up a hit until there were two outs in the fourth. Roark, meanwhile, had to pitch his way out of jams all day, twice after putting two men on base with nobody out.

But the end result was the same for the two pitchers: Nothing but zeroes. Roark wriggled his way out of tight spots throughout, while Bumgarner did his usual thing, facing trouble only once or twice along the way.

Then came the critical seventh inning, when the Nationals finally broke the deadlock, thanks to heroics both in the field and at the plate.

Revere made the play of the day (perhaps of the season) when he raced back to the base of the wall in center field to make an over-the-shoulder catch of Brandon Belt’s deep drive that would have brought home two runs if it fell to the ground.

The crowd was still buzzing when Ramos stepped to the plate to open the bottom of the inning and proceeded to drive a low-and-outside pitch from Bumgarner over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center. Ramos’ 18th homer of the season, tops among all MLB catchers, gave the Nats their first lead of the day.

Kelley retired the side in the top of the eighth, striking out Eduardo Nunez to preserve the 1-0 lead. Melancon then closed it out in the ninth in his first save opportunity with the Nationals.

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