Tanner Roark’s second start of the season came a little earlier than he expected.
He was ready.
Roark pitched seven innings, Stephen Drew and Jayson Werth each hit a home run in the fourth and the Washington Nationals defeated the winless Atlanta Braves, 3-0, on Wednesday night for their fourth consecutive victory.
Roark, who moved up a day when scheduled starter Stephen Strasburg was scratched due to illness, allowed four hits and three walks.
“We gave him 24 hours to prepare and he came through big time,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said.
Pitching on five days of rest, the right-hander struck out four and left after 100 pitches.
“Just wanted to get a good night’s sleep and get ready to go,” Roark said of pitching a day earlier than planned.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his fifth save for the Nationals (6-1).
The Braves (0-8) are off to their worst start since opening the 1988 season with 10 losses.
“It’s a humbling game and right now we’re being humbled in a lot of different areas,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
The Braves were without outfielder Hector Olivera, who was placed on paid administrative leave by Major League Baseball after he was arrested and charged with assaulting a woman at a hotel in Pentagon City.
Washington got three runs and four hits in six innings against Atlanta starter Matt Wisler.
Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4, striking out twice, and is batting .080.
Drew, making his first start for the Nationals, led off the fourth inning with a home run to right center.
One out later, Daniel Murphy walked and Werth — who was batting .105 entering the game — hit Wisler’s first pitch for a towering shot to center for his first home run.
“I’ve always kind of been one to work the count and see a lot of pitches,” Werth said. “Sometimes you’ve got to keep them honest.”
It was the second start in a row in which the fourth inning hurt Wisler, who gave up three runs to the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth last Friday.
“I’ve got to start getting through that fourth inning clean,” Wisler said. “Just two mistake pitches, both up in the zone.”
Roark allowed base runners in five of seven innings but got Wisler to ground out with the bases loaded in the second, and he struck out Freeman with two out and two on in the fifth.
“I think the main thing I saw was he had a very good changeup and he was throwing some first-pitch curveball strikes,” Baker said.
The Braves have lost 13 consecutive games in Washington, matching their worst stretch on the road against one opponent — a 13-game skid at the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951-52.
Baker was hopeful Strasburg would be well enough to start Thursday’s finale.
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