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Washington Nationals 9-7 in extras to earn split of two-game set with Tampa Bay Rays

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It took a while, but the Nationals earned a split with a 9-7 win over the Rays in extras...

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

Juan Soto hit a two-run shot to center in the first. Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo shot in the top of the third, sending an opposite field home run to right, then hit a second homer with Soto on in the fifth, this time to left-center.

Washington Nationals were up 5-3 after five innings in Tropicana Field, but the Tampa Bay Rays rallied with solo home runs by both Taylor Walls and Joey Wendle, in the 7th and 8th, respectively, which tied it up at 5-5.

It stayed that way until extras, when Yan Gomes drove in a run with a one-out single to right field to put the Nationals up 6-5, and a sac fly by Kyle Schwarber made it a 7-5 game, but a rally by the Rays in the bottom of the tenth tied it back up at 7-7, before the visiting team put up two in the top of the eleventh and held on for a 9-7 win...

Corbin vs Rays: Patrick Corbin put together a five-start unbeaten streak between May 1-23, posting a 3.82 ERA and a .288/.331/.441 line against in 30 23 IP, bouncing back from a less-than-stellar month of April in which he had a 10.47 ERA and a .329/.427/.643 line against in 16 13 IP. But in his last two starts before tonight’s, the 31-year-old lefty took back-to-back losses, putting up a 6.97 ERA and a .250/.318/.500 line against in 10 13 IP. So, yeah, he’s been a bit up and down so far in 2021, in the third year of his 6-year/$140M deal with the Nationals.

Washington Nationals v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Given a 2-0 lead to work with tonight before he even took the mound, Corbin walked back-to-back-to-back batters to start his outing. Randy Arozarena followed with a long fly ball to center that he clearly thought was going out, because he watched it until it hit the center field wall and had to stop at first base with a long single, that drove in two runs, 2-2. Mike Brousseau hit a ball to left for a sac fly and 3-2 Rays’ lead in the next at bat. Corbin threw 35 pitches overall before he got out of the first. He “settled in” as they say though...

Corbin was up to 86 pitches after four, when he stranded a one-out walk (his fourth of the night) in a 20-pitch frame, and he retired the side in order in a quick, seven-pitch fifth that pushed him up to 93 pitches overall.

Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 Ks, 93 P, 50 S, 4/3 GO/FO.

McClanahan vs the Nats: Shane McClanahan, 24, and a 2018 1st Round pick by the Rays, made his MLB debut earlier this season, and in seven starts and 30 23 IP before taking on the Nats tonight, the right-hander had a 4.11 ERA, nine walks, 38 Ks, and a .250/.304/.405 line against. McLanahan suffered his first loss last time out, giving up five hits, two walks, and four earned runs in 3 13 IP on the road in New York, and he fell behind early tonight.

Trea Turner walked in the first at bat of the game, and one out later he scored on a shot to straight center in Tropicana Field off of Juan Soto’s bat.

Soto crushed a 98 MPH, 2-1 fastball, sending it 423 feet from home and off the wall, above the painted yellow line that marks the edge of the field of play, 2-0. Soto’s 8th of 2021.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo shot out the other way on a 97 MPH 1-1 fastball from the Rays’ starter with one out in the third, connecting for his 7th of 2021, which tied it up, 3-3. Two runners were stranded later in the inning, however, after Kyle Schwarber walked and Josh Bell hit a ground-rule double to left with two out. McClanahan was up to 77 pitches total after a 26-pitch third.

Shane McClanahan’s Line: 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 77 P, 45 S, 3/1 GO/FO.

Road Soto: Juan Soto started the night with seven home runs this season, and added No. 8 in his first at bat. All eight, as MASN’s Dan Kolko and Justin Maxwell noted, have come away from Nationals Park. All eight so far have been hit on the road, where Soto started the night with .330/.435/.604 line in 108 plate appearances, as opposed to a .214/.378/.243 line in 90 PAs in the nation’s capital. Why does he hate Nationals Park? Someone start a narrative!!!

Bullpen Action: Ryan Thompson took over for the Rays in the fourth, with the score still tied at 3-3, and struck out the side in a 17-pitch frame.

Lefty Jeffrey Springs got the ball in the top of the fifth, and he walked the first batter, Juan Soto, then gave up a two-run shot to left on a 2-1 slider to Ryan Zimmerman that went 393 feet and into the stands to make it a 5-3 game in the Nationals’ favor. Zim’s 8th of 2021.

Collin McHugh retired the Nationals in order in a quick, six-pitch sixth.

Kyle Finnegan retired the Rays in order, striking out two in a 14-pitch bottom of the sixth.

McHugh tossed another 1-2-3 frame in the seventh.

Finnegan returned to the mound in the bottom of the inning and gave up a leadoff homer on a 94 MPH, 1-1 sinker to Taylor Walls, whose first major league homer made it 5-4 in the Nationals’ favor. Finnegan got a fourth out before the Nationals went to the pen again...

Daniel Hudson got the second and third outs of the Rays’ eighth, working around a two-out single.

McHugh worked around a Kyle Schwarber single for his third scoreless frame in relief.

Hudson returned to the mound in the bottom of the eighth, after throwing 15 pitches in the seventh, and retired one batter before giving up a game tying, pinch hit home run on a 2-1 slider to Joey Wendle, who hit a long fly to right that tied things up at 5-5. Wendle’s 7th this season.

Rays’ righty Andrew Kittredge struck out two in a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

Brad Hand tried to keep it tied and send it to extras. Hand walked Mike Zunino with one out, and pinch runner Kevin Kiermaier took over at first. Kiermaier stole second base with two out in the bottom of the ninth, so Hand walked Yandy Díaz intentionally to get a matchup with Austin Meadows, lefty on lefty, and got a swinging K to send it to the 10th.

Josh Harrison started at second, and Juan Soto took first as the Rays walked him to start the top of the tenth. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in against Kittredge and both runners moved up on Zimmerman’s chopper to third, then Yan Gomes hit a line drive to right to make it 6-5 in the home team’s favor. Soto tagged and scored on a Kyle Schwarber fly to left, 7-5.

Hand returned to the mound in the bottom of the tenth and gave up a long fly to center off of Randy Arozarena’s bat, and Victor Robles tracked it but couldn’t make the catch at the wall, 7-6, when the free baserunner scored, and 7-7 after Joey Wendle’s RBI single in the at bat that followed. Hand got out of the inning, but ended up throwing 44 pitches overall on the night.

Diego Castillo came on for the Rays in the top of the 11th, and gave up an RBI double to left by Starlin Castro, 8-7. Victor Robles bunted for a hit in the next at bat, sending Castro over to third, and he scored on a sac fly by Josh Harrison, 9-7.

Tanner Rainey came on to close it out the bottom of the 11th and walked Kevin Kiermaier to start the inning, but retired the next three in order to end this one, mercifully, after around four and a half hours.

Final Score: 9-7 Nationals

Nationals now 25-33