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Sluggish Gio, Nats off rhythm in loss to Rays

Lefty walks five, allows six earned runs in an inning-plus of work
Special to MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Nationals, who didn't arrive in Tampa until 5 a.m. ET on Monday morning, definitely looked like a team in need of some sleep on Monday night.

Rays starter Blake Snell carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Tampa Bay cruised to an 11-0 win in the opener of a two-game series at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Nationals, who didn't arrive in Tampa until 5 a.m. ET on Monday morning, definitely looked like a team in need of some sleep on Monday night.

Rays starter Blake Snell carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Tampa Bay cruised to an 11-0 win in the opener of a two-game series at Tropicana Field.

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"We're human," catcher Pedro Severino said through a translator. "But more importantly, we're ballplayers. Yeah, we need some rest but we've still got to go out and compete, do our job and perform."

To make matters worse, veteran starter Gio Gonzalez had the worst outing of his 10-year career, walking five and allowing six runs in an inning-plus of work.

In a nightmarish second inning for Gonzalez, C.J. Cron walked to lead things off. Jake Bauers' double into the right-field corner and another walk to Carlos Gomez loaded the bases with no outs. Gonzalez uncorked a wild pitch that kicked off catcher Pedro Severino's glove to the backstop to score Cron easily. Gonzalez then walked Adeiny Hechavarria to reload the bases for Willy Adames, who also walked.

Video: WSH@TB: Bauers comes in to score on Adames' walk

"It wasn't my night. I couldn't get a strike," Gonzalez said. "Sometimes it happens. It's part of the game."

With the bases loaded and no outs, Gonzalez served up a 3-2 pitch down the center of the plate for Kevin Kiermaier, who came into the game batting .141. Kiermaier sent the gift-wrapped 89.6-mph cutter over the fence in center field for his second career grand slam. After a single up the middle by the next batter, Matt Duffy, Gonzalez was removed by manager Dave Martinez.

Video: WSH@TB: Kiermaier crushes a grand slam to center

"Once that mind goes, it just wants to go," Martinez said. "He couldn't get it together."

It was also the third straight loss for Gonzalez, who has allowed 17 earned runs in his last 14 1/3 innings of work.

After walking the first two batters of the game, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper, Snell settled down to retire the next 18 Nats batters he faced, striking out 10 of them.

Anthony Rendon finally spoiled Snell's no-hit bid with a double off the top of the wall in left-center field to lead off the seventh inning. Rendon, who has hit safely in his last nine games, would end up stranded at third. That would be the closest Washington would get to a run against Snell.

Video: WSH@TB: Rendon doubles to break up Snell's no-hitter

"He's one of the best lefties in the league and he showed it today," Severino said. "He was mixing up his pitches real well. Curveball down, changeup away, even the fastball he was keeping down in the zone."

Juan Soto had Washington's only other hit of the game, a two-out single in the ninth off reliever Austin Pruitt

Former Nats catcher Wilson Ramos had two home runs for the Rays, who won their fourth game in a row.

SOUND SMART
Since May 23, Rendon has 15 doubles, the most in the National League. 

HE SAID IT
"There's a couple of dead areas which I've experienced before that you cannot take your eye off the ball in the gaps because you will lose it." -- Martinez, on playing outfield under the dome at Tropicana Field

Martinez on return to Trop: 'It felt a little weird'

UP NEXT
Washington will finish off a brief two-game road set against the Rays with a 12:10 p.m. ET start on Tuesday at Tropicana Field. Max Scherzer (10-3, 2.09 ERA) will take on Tampa Bay's Nathan Eovaldi (1-3, 4.91) in the matinee. In nine career starts against the Rays, Scherzer is 5-2 with a 2.82 ERA, including an eight-inning, two-run gem on June 5 in which he struck out 13 batters while walking none.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.

Washington Nationals