Just when it looked like the Washington Nationals were starting to turn their June struggles around, the team returned to its losing ways Monday night in Tampa Bay. Gio Gonzalez struggles through one of his worst starts of the season and the offense once again fell flat, paving the way for a 6-1 loss at the hands of the Rays.
Gonzalez entered tonight’s game against the Rays in search of his fifth win of the season and riding somewhat of a hot streak. The left-hander had given up just two runs on four hits in each of his last two starts and seemed to be turning around a very inconsistent season.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, things didn’t go how Gonzalez would’ve hoped and the left-hander came away with his fourth loss of the season.
The Rays got things going early on against Gonzalez as Rene Rivera hit a sacrifice fly to give Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead. Tampa Bay added two more runs in the third on an RBI single by Logan Forsythe and a sacrifice fly by Jake Elmore. Unfortunately for Gonzalez and the Nationals, the Rays’ offense wasn’t done.
Evan Longoria gave the Rays their fourth run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Rays then stretched their lead to 5-0 on another RBI single by Forsythe, ending Gonzalez’s night and putting the game out of reach for the Nationals.
Gonzalez struggled all night, allowing five runs on eight hits while walking three batters over 3 1/3 innings of work. It’s been an up-and-down season for Gonzalez, as the left-hander’s ERA is up to 4.82 and he’s now given up five runs or more four times this season.
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The Rays added another run, this time against reliever Taylor Hill, on an RBI triple by Brandon Guyer in the fifth inning. Despite the run, Hill pitched well tonight, allowing just one run over 3 2/3 innings. Right-hander David Carpenter threw a scoreless inning of his own, finally stopping the Rays’ offense at six runs.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, those six runs would be more than enough as the team’s offense was all but inexistent. The Nationals scored their only run in the top of the ninth on an RBI single by Yunel Escobar. The team had the bases loaded with one out for Bryce Harper, but he lined into a double play to end the game.
With the loss, the Nationals are now 33-31 on the season and trail the Mets by 1 1/2 games in the NL East.