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Washington Nationals drop second straight to Boston Red Sox after tying it late, 5-3 final...

After an eighth-inning rally for the Nationals tied things up at 1-1, the Red Sox scored four in the top of the ninth in a 5-3 win.

Boston Red Sox v Washington Nationals Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Boston Red Sox’ starter Tanner Houck was perfect through five, but since he’d been coming out of the ‘pen the last few weeks he was apparently limited in terms of pitch count, though the righty’s teammates kept the shutout going through seven after he was lifted.

Washington Nationals’ righty Josiah Gray held the DH-less AL club to a run on three hits in his six innings of work in the second game of the three-game set in D.C., giving up a two-out, two-strike solo home run by Rafael Devers that accounted for the only run for either of the teams through seven and a half.

But the Nationals loaded the bases in front of Juan Soto in the bottom of the eighth, and he hit a sac fly to center that tied things up at 1-1.

It wasn’t tied for long. A leadoff walk, two-out RBI triple, and an RBI single for the Red Sox in the top of the ninth made it a 3-1 game in the visitor’s favor, and they added two more for a 5-1 lead in what ended up a 5-3 win.

Gray vs the Red Sox: Josiah Gray held the Colorado Rockies to four hits, three walks, and three earned runs in 5 13 innings on the mound in Coors Field, and the 23-year-old right-hander talked after the outing about being happy with the results after earning his second win of the season (and career), in an outing which saw him give up two of the hits, two of the walks, and all three runs in his final inning of work.

“In summary, I’m happy with the outing, happy with the way the first five innings went, obviously still a work in progress, got to clean up the sixth, but a lot of positives from tonight,” Gray said.

“I thought he threw the ball well,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said.

“Early on he threw the ball fantastic. Had everything working. Breaking ball was good, fastball was located well, so I think he just got tired at the end.”

This afternoon in the nation’s capital, Gray worked around a double, a wild pitch, and a walk in a 16-pitch top of the first, then retired nine-straight Red Sox’ hitters before Rafael Devers hit a 95 MPH 2-2 fastball, belt-high and middle-middle out to right for a two-out solo shot in the fourth that made it a 1-0 game. No. 36 for Devers in 2021.

Gray held it there through six, working around a one-out single and two-out walk in a 21-pitch top of the sixth inning that left him at 90 pitches total on the day.

Josiah Gray’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 90 P, 60 S, 5/4 GO/FO.

Houck vs the Nationals: Red Sox’ right-hander Tanner Houck spent the last few weeks in the team’s bullpen, but the club called upon him to start for the 13th time in 18 total appearances this season in the second game of three this weekend in Nationals Park, and the 25-year-old, 2017 1st Round pick said recently he was up for anything he’s asked to do.

“It’s all hands on deck right now, no matter if it’s starting, relieving, pinch hitting,” Houck said, as quoted in the Boston Globe.

“I’m ready for anything. I’m not scared to step up and fill any role that I’m called upon to do. There’s no panic for me.”

In his 12 starts, Houck had a 4.02 ERA, 15 walks, 65 Ks, and a .248/.316/.354 line against in 53 23 IP heading into today’s outing.

This afternoon in Nationals Park, the Red Sox’ right-hander retired all 15 batters he faced, on just 53 pitches, striking out eight of them before he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the sixth, and recording 10 swinging strikes (six with his slider), and 15 called strikes (eight with his slider) in a dominant outing he left with his team up 1-0 on the Nationals.

Tanner Houck’s Line: 5.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 Ks, 53 P, 39 S, 6/1 GO/FO.

Fun With Small Sample Sizes: As the Nationals mentioned in their pregame notes, in 13 games dating to September 11th, Nationals’ catcher Keibert Ruiz was 20-for-51 (.392 AVG) with three doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs, two walks, two HBPs, and seven runs scored, and the 23-year-old backstop had hit safely in 10 of the 13 games, recording six multi-hit games along the way. This afternoon in the nation’s capital, Ruiz was 0 for 2 with a walk.

Bullpen Action: Righty Garrett Richards was first out of the bullpen for the visiting team, and he kept the combined perfect game going through 5 23 before pinch hitter Gerardo Parra singled to left to break it up.

But a grounder to and force at second base off of Lane Thomas’s bat in the next at-bat kept the combined shutout going.

Austin Voth retired the Nationals in order, striking out two in a 14-pitch top of the seventh.

Ryan Brasier was next out of the ‘pen for the Sox, and he retired the first two batters he faced, but Josh Bell beat out an infield single, Keibert Ruiz walked, and Andrew Stevenson reached on an error at first on a dribbler the covering pitcher dropped after a soft toss to the bag by Kyle Schwarber. Jordy Mercer stepped in with the bases loaded and two out and K’d looking to end the threat. Still 1-0 Red Sox. And Mercer got tossed arguing the called third strike...

Kyle Finnegan got two quick outs in the top of the eighth, with back-to-back Ks, then gave up back-to-back, two-out walks to Enrique Hernandez and Kyle Schwarber before the Nats went to the pen again for Tanner Rainey.

Rainey issued the third of three walks, to Xander Bogaerts, loading the bases with two out in front of Rafael Devers, who K’d swinging on a 99 MPH 2-2 fastball for out No. 3. Still 1-0 Sox.

Adam Ottavino struck out Carter Kieboom, but Ryan Zimmerman hit a fly to short center in the next at bat that Hunter Renfroe lost in the lights, or just never saw, but Zimmerman saw Renfroe’s reaction and hustled around to second as it fell in, reaching the bag ahead of the throw in for a gift of a one-out double. Lane Thomas stepped in next and walked to put two on with one out.

Alcides Escobar walked to load them up in front of Juan Soto. Lefty Austin Davis came on for the Sox, and Soto hit a 1-0 fastball to the track in center, deep enough to get the tying run home, 1-1 after eight.

Rainey returned to the mound in the top of the ninth inning and issued a leadoff walk to J.D. Martinez, who was replaced by pinch runner José Iglesias, who scored two outs later on a triple to right field by Christian Vázquez, 2-1 Sox, and 3-1 on an RBI single by Travis Shaw.

Mason Thompson took over with a runner on and two out and gave up a two-run shot to left by Kiké Hernández, 5-1.

Austin Davis came back out with a four-run lead, and gave up a leadoff walk to Keibert Ruiz and a two-run home run by Andrew Stevenson, 5-3.

Hansel Robles took over and got the final three outs to end it (after a two-out walk to Ryan Zimmerman).

Final Score: 5-3 Red Sox

Nationals now 65-96