WASHINGTON -- Like his surging team, D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray felt great on Sunday -- until he didn't. Ray exited in the second inning with an oblique injury, and this edition of the D-backs could not enter the record book for best start in franchise history, losing, 3-1, to the
WASHINGTON -- Like his surging team, D-backs left-hander Robbie Ray felt great on Sunday -- until he didn't. Ray exited in the second inning with an oblique injury, and this edition of the D-backs could not enter the record book for best start in franchise history, losing, 3-1, to the Nationals.
The D-backs found scant success at Nationals Park against left-hander Giovany Gonzalez and two relievers, while Washington took immediate advantage of Ray's departure with two runs in the second inning and one in the third.
Arizona won the opening two games of the series and entered Sunday tied with Boston for the best record in the Majors at 19-7, which matched the franchise record set in 2008. The Red Sox won to become the Majors' first 20-win team, while the D-backs still hold the National League's best mark at 19-8.
Scoreless with one out in the second, Ray signaled to the dugout immediately after tossing a first-pitch ball to Nationals catcher Matt Wieters.
"I felt great up until that one pitch," Ray said. "It was probably in the middle of my delivery. I was letting go of the ball. Just felt my side grab. I wasn't able to finish the pitch. Just left it up and away. Wasn't able to get anything on it or extension. I felt amazing coming into today's game, bullpen session and everything. It's baseball."
Ray, 26, is 2-0 with a 4.88 ERA in six starts. In his previous outing, Ray allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision at Philadelphia. He went 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA last season. The 2017 All-Star struck out two of the four batters he retired Sunday and allowed a first-inning single to Bryce Harper.
Moments after struggling to put on his socks and shoes, Ray described the pain as "a little sore, but not too bad right now." An MRI exam is scheduled for Monday, along with a meeting with team doctors.
"The DL is likely," manager Torey Lovullo said. "You guys obviously can assume that."
Reliever T.J. McFarland (1-1) inherited the 1-0 count and surrendered a solo home run to Wieters, his former catcher when both played for Baltimore. Washington took a 2-0 lead in the second on McFarland's fielding error after loading the bases. Michael A. Taylor's blast in third inning put Arizona down, 3-0.
The D-backs didn't score until the seventh against Gonzalez, who allowed one run and six hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts. Leadoff hitter David Peralta whiffed in all four at-bats against Washington's left-hander, who used a good mix.
"Give credit to him," Peralta said of Gonzalez. "He's been in the league for a long time for a reason. I'll get him next time."
Ketel Marte, who had two of Arizona's eight hits, came home on pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso's sacrifice fly, but Gonzalez avoided further damage.
Chris Owings opened the ninth with a leadoff double, but the D-backs could not rally against Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, who retired the next three batters for his fifth save.
McFarland settled in and prevented Lovullo from burning the bullpen. He allowed five hits and three runs -- two earned -- in 4 2/3 innings with three walks and two home runs.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
D-backs' rally stalls: Arizona opened the seventh with Marte's single and a Deven Marrero walk. Though Descalso's fly ball drove in a run, the D-backs missed out on a potential big inning in a game with few opportunities. Peralta's fourth strikeout with a runner on base ended the inning.
"[Gio] was starting to stagger a little bit in the seventh, but when he needed to make pitches, he did that," Lovullo said. "I think experience pulled him through that."
HE SAID IT
"We're just going to be ready. We're just going to be tough. We're a tough team, too. They better be ready for us too." -- Peralta, on the challenge ahead of back-to-back series against last year's two World Series teams. The Dodgers visit Monday-Thursday followed by the Astros for three games.
Zack Greinke (2-2, 4.80 ERA) takes the mound Monday (6:40 p.m. MST) as Arizona opens a seven-game homestand, starting with four against the Dodgers. Greinke, who allowed five runs in Wednesday's loss at Philadelphia, is a stunning 14-1 with a 2.69 ERA over 19 starts at Chase Field. Brock Stewart, recalled Sunday from Triple-A Oklahoma City, or Thomas Stripling is expected to start for the Dodgers.
Ben Standig is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.