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Nats' explosive bats take down Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Nationals had everything going their way Tuesday night during a 16-4 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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Tanner Roark started for the Nationals and handcuffed the Rays for seven innings, allowing one run on six hits to claim his third win of the season. Meanwhile, the Nationals' bats were explosive.

Paced by Clint Robinson, Bryce Harper, Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos, the Nationals scored 16 runs on 23 hits to claim a split of the two-game series.

"We pushed Tanner as far as he could go this year -- pitch-count-wise," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "He was able to finish the last inning strong, which is a good sign. Espi, Clint, Harper, everybody contributed tonight. Good defense. All in all, a good win for us."

Trailing 13-1 heading into the eighth inning, the Rays sent infielder Jake Elmore to the mound. He pitched the eighth inning, allowing a solo homer to Ramos. Infielder Nick Franklin stepped in to pitch the ninth, and he also gave up a long ball to Ramos.

Video: [email protected]: Ramos hits two homers vs. position players

"The last two at-bats, I was very relaxed at the plate. I just used my hands to see the ball," Ramos said. "I was waiting for a good pitch. After those two home runs, that's the position I need to be against a regular pitcher. I need to see the video tomorrow. Those two at-bats would help me be relaxed with a regular pitcher."

Rene Rivera launched a three-run homer for the Rays in the bottom of the ninth.

The loss snapped the Rays' four-game winning streak.

"As far as tonight's game goes, you put it behind you as soon as the last out's made, basically," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

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Scoring in bunches: The Nationals scored six runs in the second inning off right-hander Alex Colome. Robinson highlighted the scoring with a mammoth shot that landed in the right field catwalk. Three innings innings later, Washington added four runs against left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser and right-hander Enny Romero. Harper highlighted the scoring with a huge shot over the right-center field wall. The Nationals would add six more runs and set a season high in hits with 23.

Video: Must C Crushed: Robinson's homer vanishes

"The good thing for us is, regardless of situation, we stuck with it. Guys stuck with their approach, they kept swinging, they were getting good pitches to hit. So it was a good sign," Williams said. More >

43-pitch second: Colome struggled throughout his two innings of work. After escaping trouble in the first, the right-hander wasn't as lucky in the second when he allowed six earned runs and threw 43 pitches. Colome did not come out to pitch the third. More >

Not bad for Roark: In what could be his final start before he goes back to the bullpen, Roark had a quality start. Roark is 3-0 as a starter. He was happy to get run support early.

Video: [email protected]: Roark allows one run over seven innings

"I just wanted to go out there and keep going after guys and not trying to be complacent like did the last game," Roark said.

"This is why we play 162 games. You're going to have one or two games like this. And today was one of those." -- Rivera, on Tuesday night's loss

Besides scoring a season-high 16 runs, Tuesday marked the seventh time the Nationals scored 10 or more runs in a game this season. They also set a career high with 23 hits.

The 23 hits allowed by the Rays tied for second most in club history, and were their most ever allowed at Tropicana Field.

Nationals: The Nationals return to D.C. to continue their home-and-home series against the Rays on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (5-4, 3.74 ERA) will take the mound for Washington. Zimmermann will face the Rays for the first time since his rookie season (career start No. 10). He tossed five innings of one-run ball (solo home run) in an 8-3 loss.

Rays: Matt Andriese (1-1, 3.76 ERA) will start for the Rays after earning his first Major League win Friday night against the White Sox when he pitched a career long 5 2/3 innings, allowing no earned runs while striking out a career-high five.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for Listen to his podcast. Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats.