Washington at Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay
W: J. Howell (2-2) L: R. Villone (3-2)
HR: WAS - None   TB - G. Kapler (2)

Rays 4, Nationals 3

CBSSports.com wire reports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Even though he's batting less than .200, the Tampa Bay Rays continue to show faith in Gabe Kapler.

That loyalty paid Friday night.

One pitch after an error prolonged his at-bat, the slumping Kapler hit a pinch-hit home run that snapped an eighth-inning tie and gave the AL champions a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals.

Stuck in a 3-for-31 slide that dropped his batting average to .173, Kapler went deep against Ron Villone (3-2) after first baseman Nick Johnson dropped a pop foul that would have been the third out.

"I was screaming at the ball and I think it heard me and skipped off Nick's glove," Kapler said. "I guess I really wanted that opportunity."

Kapler primarily plays against left-handed pitchers and said he's extremely appreciative that manager Joe Maddon continues to pencil him into the lineup and bring him off the bench against lefties.

"One of the things I'm most impressed with this season is the fact I've struggled fairly significantly, and every time there's a lefty out there, I get the chance to start," Kapler said. "It tells me he believes I can get the job done."

Villone was on his way to an easy one-two-three eighth when Johnson settled under Kapler's pop foul. He made a slight adjustment at the last moment, but couldn't hold onto the ball.

"I just missed it. Plain and simple," Johnson said. "Saw it the whole way, just didn't catch it."

J.P. Howell (2-2), the fourth Tampa Bay pitcher, worked 1 1/3 innings to get the victory that moved Tampa Bay (32-31) one game over .500.

Another sloppy performance by the Nationals, who allowed two unearned runs, prompted manager Manny Acta to hold a team meeting.

"We have to make sure we don't give any extra outs," Acta said. "That really ends up biting us."

Washington's Elijah Dukes had a two-run double, helping his team take a 3-0 lead in his first trip to Tropicana Field since the Rays traded their former prospect to the Nationals after the 2007 season.

Dukes ability was never an issue during a turbulent stay in Tampa Bay's minor league system and one rocky season with the major league club. But his temper and several off-the-field transgressions were a hindrance, and the Rays eventually ran out of patience.

His first-inning double off Matt Garza set off a celebration among a group of family and friends who rose to cheer each time the 24-year-old, who went to high school in Tampa, came to the plate. Rays fans greeted him with scattered boos.

Adam Dunn drove in Washington's first run with a first-inning single off Garza, who allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

Tampa Bay erased a 3-0 deficit with help from a throwing error by Nationals catcher Josh Bard that allowed B.J. Upton to trot home from third base after he and Carl Crawford executed a double steal in the third inning.

Dioner Navarro had a RBI single in the second and Gabe Gross doubled down the right field line off reliever Joel Hanrahan to drive in the last run charged to starter Craig Stammen to make it 3-3 in the sixth.

Stammen, one of four rookies in Washington's rotation, allowed four hits, walked three and struck out five.


DH Pat Burrell returned to the Rays' lineup after missing 29 games with a neck strain and went 0 for 3 with a walk. ... Tampa Bay LHP Scott Kazmir (strained right quad) threw 44 pitches in a simulated game and likely will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment at Class A Charlotte in the middle of next week. ... Rays SS Jason Bartlett (left ankle sprain) began a rehab assignment at Charlotte. He went 1 for 4 with a walk as the designated hitter Friday and is expected play shortstop Saturday and Sunday before being evaluated. ... Washington RHP Kip Wells (groin strain) will pitch on consecutive days Saturday and Sunday for Class A Potomac. ... Nationals LHP Scott Olsen (left shoulder tendinitis) will make a rehab start this weekend with Triple-A Syracuse.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Players of the Game
Tampa Bay

G. Kapler
AB 1
R 1
H 1
HR 1

A. Dunn
AB 2
R 1
H 2
HR 0

Related Video

June 22, 2017
Wednesday's MLB winners and losers (0:41)
Washington Nationals
Cristian Guzman, SS4110101 .325
Nick Johnson, 1B5110012 .313
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4010012 .315
Adam Dunn, DH2121200 .263
    Alberto Gonzalez, PR-DH0000000 .308
Elijah Dukes, RF4012014 .253
Josh Willingham, LF4000024 .246
Willie Harris, CF3000103 .242
Josh Bard, C3010102 .234
Anderson Hernandez, 2B4010002 .260
2B - Adam Dunn (8, Wheeler), Elijah Dukes (10, Garza)
RBI - Adam Dunn (45), Elijah Dukes 2 (29)
CS - Anderson Hernandez (2, 2nd base by Garza/Navarro)
Team LOB - 8
Outfield Assists - Elijah Dukes 1
E - Josh Bard (2, Throwing), Nick Johnson (6, Dropped fly)
Washington Nationals
Craig Stammen 5.1432350 5.86
Joel Hanrahan (BS,4) 1200010 6.35
Ron Villone (L,3-2) 1.1210111 0.49
Joe Beimel 0.1000010 4.01
IBB - Longoria by Ron Villone
HBP - Crawford (by Craig Stammen)
Pitches-Strikes - Craig Stammen 90-55, Joel Hanrahan 20-12, Ron Villone 38-22, Joe Beimel 7-4
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Craig Stammen 8-2, Ron Villone 1-2
Batters Faced - Craig Stammen 23, Joel Hanrahan 5, Ron Villone 7, Joe Beimel 1
Tampa Bay Rays
B.J. Upton, CF4110021 .212
Carl Crawford, LF3000012 .321
Evan Longoria, 3B3000111 .303
Carlos Pena, 1B4110023 .229
Ben Zobrist, 2B3110100 .316
Pat Burrell, DH3000101 .243
Gabe Gross, RF3011012 .275
   a- Gabe Kapler, PH-RF1111000 .183
Dioner Navarro, C4021002 .209
Reid Brignac, SS3010111 .250
a-homered for Gross in the 8th
2B - Gabe Gross (6, Hanrahan), Dioner Navarro (8, Villone)
HR - Gabe Kapler (2, Villone)
RBI - Gabe Gross (20), Gabe Kapler (8), Dioner Navarro (18)
2-OUT RBI - Gabe Gross (7), Gabe Kapler (1), Dioner Navarro (6)
SB - B.J. Upton 2 (20, 2nd base off Stammen/Bard, off Stammen/Bard), Carl Crawford (36, 3rd base off Stammen/Bard), Ben Zobrist (8, 2nd base off Stammen/Bard), Reid Brignac (1, 2nd base off Hanrahan/Bard)
Team LOB - 8
DP - Longoria-Zobrist-Pena
Tampa Bay Rays
Matt Garza 5.2733450 3.63
Joe Nelson 1000000 4.88
Dan Wheeler 1100000 5.03
J.P. Howell (W,2-2) 1.1000100 2.01
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Garza 116-67, Joe Nelson 11-7, Dan Wheeler 21-11, J.P. Howell 22-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Garza 6-4, Joe Nelson 1-2, Dan Wheeler 1-2, J.P. Howell 3-1
Batters Faced - Matt Garza 26, Joe Nelson 3, Dan Wheeler 4, J.P. Howell 5
Game Information
Attendance - 18273
Game Time - 3:24
Temperature - 72
Umpires - Home - Joe West, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Paul Schrieber, Third Base - Ed Rapuano