The Washington Nationals got the last word against Joel Peralta in the pine tar flap.
The suspended Tampa Bay reliever served up a tiebreaking, two-run double to Danny Espinosa in the sixth inning Thursday night, sending the Nationals over the Rays 5-2.
Earlier in the day, Peralta learned that he had been penalized by Major League Baseball for eight games after being caught with pine tar in his glove Tuesday night. Peralta is appealing the decision and can keep playing until a final decision is reached.
“I’m glad we’re past all this other stuff. That wears me out more than anything,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
The switch-hitting Espinosa, who was batting a paltry .133 with runners in scoring position and just .188 left-handed, delivered.
“He’s a very dangerous hitter. He seems to shine in RBI situations,” Johnson said.
Maddon was disappointed that the Rays, who are in third place in the AL East, lost two of three in Washington.
“We didn’t get swept. We won one of the three, and that’s a good thing. When you play a three-game series you obviously want to win the series, but the last thing you want is to get swept, and we did not get swept,” Maddon said.
As a rookie, Espinosa hit 21 home runs and had 66 RBIs. This season hasn’t gone as well. He has just six home runs and 21 RBIs.
He has a huge defender in his manager.
“Sometimes, it just takes a little time — patience. You know he has the talent, the ability. You just try and not put too pressure on him,” Johnson said.
“It’s been huge to have the manager have my back,” Espinosa said.
Peralta (0-3) entered a game that was tied at 2 in the sixth. He got the first two outs of the inning before Jesus Flores doubled, pinch hitter Adam LaRoche was walked intentionally and Espinosa doubled.