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Washington Nationals drop 3rd straight in 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field...

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The Nationals had their chances again, but couldn’t cash in on enough of them in a 3-1 loss to the Rays in Tampa...

MLB: Washington Nationals at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester only lasted 3 23 innings, over which he gave up just four hits and one run, but he walked four, and threw 91 pitches to the 19 batters he faced, and Washington’s relief corps struggled to throw strikes as well, with Wander Suero walking two in the fifth, both of whom eventually scored as the Tampa Bay Rays broke up a 1-1 tie and went on to a 3-1 win in the series opener in Tropicana Field.

Lester vs Tampa Bay: Though he still hasn’t earned his first curly-W this season, Jon Lester has put together back-to-back outings in which he’s held opposing hitters to just one run over 4 and 5 23-inning appearances against the Brewers and Braves, respectively. Lester talked after pitching in Truist Park last week about going on short rest as he did after an abbreviated outing against Milwaukee in the second game of a doubleheader in D.C.

“I basically told [manager Davey Martinez] I said, ‘Just tell me when I’m pitching and I’ll be there,’ Lester said. “Just kind of how I’ve always looked at it. I haven’t done it a lot in my career, but times that things come up, like I said, I’m a pitcher, so you just tell me the day and I’ll do my best to be there on time and be ready to go.”

With regular rest before tonight’s outing, Lester took on the Rays tonight, and fell behind in a hurry.

Five pitches in, it was 1-0 Tampa Bay, after Manuel Margot hit a 3-1 cutter out to left field for a leadoff blast that put the home team up early. Margot’s 6th.

Lester kept it there through three, which he completed on 67 pitches, but one- and two-out walks and a base-loading single in the fourth pushed him up to 91 pitches total, and ended his night...

Jon Lester’s Line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 91 P, 52 S, 4/3 GO/FO.

Glasnow vs D.C.: Through 12 starts and 77 IP this season, Rays’ right-hander Tyler Glasnow had put up a 2.69 ERA, 25 walks, 106 Ks, and a .168/.238/.322 line against. Going up against the Nationals tonight, the starter was looking to snap a five-start winless streak, over which he had put up a 3.51 ERA, 10 walks, 42 Ks, and a .190/.252/.380 line against, so yeah, the win stat, amirite?

“We’re going to try to attack the heater early,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said when asked how his hitters would attack the righty. “I know he’s got three pitches, he’s got a really good curveball, we got to get him in the zone. The biggest thing is we got to get him in the zone. But he’s going to come after you.

“He’s got three pitches that he locates really well. I think we got to be aggressive early, but we got to get after him. When he gets to two strikes, pretty tough to hit.”

Starlin Castro hit a 1-1 fastball to center to start the top of the third tonight, after Glasnow tossed two scoreless on 28 pitches, and Kyle Schwarber walked in an eight-pitch at bat to set Trea Turner up with an RBI opportunity he cashed in with an opposite field single on a 98 MPH 1-1 fastball he shot out to right, tying things up at 1-1 after the Rays jumped out to an early lead.

A 16-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth, in which he struck out the side, left Glasnow with 10 Ks from 19 hitters faced and 78 pitches overall on the night in what was still a 1-1 game in Tropicana Field, but it was 3-1 Rays after the bottom of the inning was over.

Josh Bell doubled to right to start the seventh, and tried to score on a Josh Harrison liner to left one out later, but Randy Arozarena came up throwing and nailed him at the plate for out No. 2 of what ended up a scoreless, 21-pitch frame that left Glasnow at 114 pitches total and ended his outing...

Tyler Glasnow’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 Ks, 114 P, 77 S, 3/2 GO/FO.

Martinez Returns To Tampa: Davey Martinez spent 10 seasons as a bench coach in Tampa Bay (2008–14) and Chicago (2015–17) before joining the Nationals as their manager in 2018, and he also played for the Rays between 1998-2000, so it is always special for the now-56-year-old skipper to return to Tropicana Field.

“Absolutely,” he said before tonight’s game.

“As you know I made this my home for many, many years. It’s always good to see familiar faces and talk to people that you know for many, many years.”

Bullpen Action: Wander Suero took over on the mound for the Nats with the bases loaded and two out in the Rays’ half of the fourth, and Yandy Díaz at the plate, and he got a pop to center for out No. 3 to keep it tied up at 1-1.

Suero returned to the mound in the bottom of the fifth and gave up back-to-back walks and a bloop double to right that hopped off the carpet, and over Juan Soto’s head, after it fell in front of him for a hit, 2-1 Rays.

Sam Clay took over and got out No. 1 on a swinging K from Joey Wendle, but a Mike Zunino single to center in the next at bat made it 3-1, and a walk to Taylor Walls loaded the bases in front of Kevin Kiermaier, but Clay got him looking with an 0-2 sinker for out No. 2, then the Nationals went to Ryne Harper (who was called back up this afternoon) vs Manuel Margot and Harper gave up a long fly to left that ... Kyle Schwarber caught leaning over the short wall just to the left of the foul pole for out No. 3. Phew.

Harper walked the first batter he faced in the Rays’ sixth, putting Yandy Díaz on, but Austin Meadows K’d swinging in the next at bat, and Randy Arozarena grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 DP.

J.P. Feyereisen took over for Tampa Bay in the top of the eighth, and he gave up leadoff and one-out walks that put two on in front of Juan Soto, who worked the count full and took the third walk of the inning to load the bases.

Ryan Thompson came on to face Ryan Zimmerman with the bases loaded and one out and rung up on an 0-2 fastball up high inside. Josh Bell K’d swinging on a 95 MPH 1-2 fastball for out No. 3.

Paolo Espino tossed a scoreless bottom of the eighth to keep it a 3-1 game.

Rays’ closer Diego Castillo came on for the save opportunity and retired the side in order to end it.

Final Score: 3-1 Rays

Nationals now 24-33