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MIA@WSH: Roark throws seven strong frames vs. Marlins

In July of 2010, the Nationals sent veteran infielder Cristian Guzman to the Rangers in exchange for then-Double-A pitching prospects Ryan Tatusko and Tanner Roark.

Tatusko remains in the Minor Leagues with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs, but since that trade, Roark -- who will face off against Rangers ace Yu Darvish in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park -- has developed into a regular member of Washington's starting rotation.

"They got my career started, so I'm grateful for that for sure," said Roark, who the Rangers selected in the 25th round of 2008 First-Year Player Draft. "They're a good organization."

Roark said he was able to reunite with a number of Rangers players, including first baseman Mitch Moreland and pitcher Robbie Ross, before Friday's game.

"It was good to see them," Roark said. "They were out there throwing the football around while I was getting ready for my bullpen."

During his time in Double-A with the Rangers' organization, Roark said pitching coach Jeff Andrews was very influential in his career.

"He got me started on the right mental path," Roark said. "He's very intelligent."

In 10 starts this season, Roark is 3-3 with a 3.47 ERA. He surrendered three earned runs, which all came on a monster home run from right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, in seven strong innings in his last outing, a 3-2 loss to Miami.

"It worked out for the better, I guess," Roark said.

Rangers: Long road trip comes to an end
The Rangers will end their 11-game, three-city road trip on Sunday against the Nationals. The Rangers were already guaranteed a winning road trip before coming to Washington, D.C., by taking three of four from the Tigers in Detroit and the Twins in Minnesota.

The Rangers open a nine-game homestand, beginning with the Orioles, on Tuesday in Arlington. They'll play 22 of their next 38 at home leading up to the All-Star break.

• Sunday also marks the end of a stretch of nine of 14 games played during the day. That's unusual for a team that usually plays more night games than any other Major League team. The Rangers will play 30 of their next 38 at night.

"We just need to be consistent," Washington said. "We're playing good baseball, but it's all about being consistent. We have a lot of young guys that are getting better."

Nationals: Preparing for Darvish is no easy task
Darvish will return to the mound Sunday afternoon for the first time since missing his last start on Tuesday due to neck stiffness, which is bad news for a suddenly hot Nationals offense.

Manager Matt Williams said the Japanese hurler provides a distinct challenge because of his vast repertoire. Darvish can throw any one of five pitches for a strike: sinking fastball, four-seam fastball, slider, curveball and changeup. Not to mention, he changes speeds significantly on his curveball, which Williams said could even count as a sixth pitch.

Williams suggests his players pick a side of the plate to focus on instead of trying to attack a specific pitch.

"Understand that he's good and he's one of the best in our game," Williams said. "But you've got to throw it over the plate, and if you choose to take a whack at it, put a good swing on it and see what happens."

Worth noting
• The Nationals scored eight or more runs in consecutive games against the Rangers in victories on Friday and Saturday. It was the first time all season Washington reached that benchmark in back-to-back contests.

• The Nats scored a combined 19 runs in the first two games against the Rangers, which ties a season high for the team during any two-game span. Washington scored a combined 19 runs in the seven games prior to the series against Texas.

• Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis ended an 0-for-23 drought for Texas pitchers after slapping an RBI single to left field in Friday night's 9-2 loss to the Nats.

• Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon entered the seventh inning of Friday night's game against the Rangers in a 5-for-43 slump. Since that point, he is 6-for-7 with five singles and a home run. Comments