St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Erasmo Ramirez threw six scoreless innings and Logan Forsythe drove in two runs with three hits in the Tampa Bay Rays' 6-1 win over the Washington Nationals.
Ramirez (6-2) struck out four and scattered five hits and three walks in six innings before three Tampa relievers held onto the lead. Washington had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth, but Bryce Harper lined into a game- ending double play.
Kevin Kiermaier added two doubles and two runs for the Rays, while Steven Souza walked five times.
Gio Gonzalez (4-4) took the loss after allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings. Yunel Escobar drove in the Nats' only run in the ninth.
The Rays had Gonzalez on the ropes early, but he was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the first. He was not as fortunate in the second.
Kiermaier turned a single into a double when Denard Span casually retrieved the ball in center field, then scored on Rene Rivera's sacrifice fly after stealing third.
"The first inning, (Gonzalez) threw some fastballs in to the right-handers," said Nationals manager Matt Williams. "After that, he lost command."
Back-to-back singles by Joey Butler and Evan Longoria started the bottom of the third before Forsythe's hit to right field added to Tampa Bay's lead. A walk to Souza loaded the bases and Jake Elmore drove in another run with a sacrifice fly.
Asdrubal Cabrera nearly added to the lead with a deep drive to left field, but Michael Taylor made a leaping grab at the wall to hold Washington's deficit at 3-0.
Gonzalez's struggles continued in the fourth. Rivera singled, Brandon Guyer was hit by a pitch. Butler singled to load the bases and Longoria's sacrifice fly gave the Rays a 4-0 lead. Forsythe's single put another run on the board and ended Gonzalez's night.
Guyer's triple to center field scored Kiermaier for a 6-0 Rays' lead in the fifth. Longoria was hit on the wrist with a pitch later in the inning and left the game, but the Rays announced that X-rays were negative.
"I'm guessing he's going to be pretty sore tomorrow," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "No decisions have been made whether he's going to play or not."
Ramirez's only 1-2-3 inning was the sixth, and he had to work out of a couple of bases-loaded jams. In the third, the Nationals filled the sacks with two outs before Wilson Ramos grounded out. Ramos' two-out single in the fifth loaded the bases for Clint Robinson, but his lineout was caught by Elmore to end the threat.
Taylor's walk and singles by Dan Uggla and Anthony Rendon loaded the bases for Washington in the ninth. Escobar's single ended Tampa Bay's bid for a shutout, but the game ended when Harper lined out to Nick Franklin at first base. Franklin quickly fired to Cabrera, who tagged second base to end the game.
After one more game in St. Petersburg set for Tuesday, both teams will travel to Washington and play two more games ... Ramirez has won four starts in a row, while his six wins are a career high ... The Rays signed former All-Star Grady Sizemore to a minor-league contract Monday ... Souza is the first player since Toronto's Melky Cabrera on August 10, 2014 to walk five times in a game and not score.