- - Monday, June 25, 2018

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. | Tropicana Field became an indoor house of horrors on Monday night for the Nationals, with piped-in noise of train whistles and the very really sound of baseballs being crushed over the fence by the Rays.

The sleep-deprived Nationals, who arrived in the area about 5 a.m. Monday after a Sunday night game in Washington, stumbled through an 11-0 loss to a surging Rays team. The visitors had just two hits before a lively crowd of 13,624. The Nationals have not been no-hit since coming to Washington in 2005.

Former Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos of the Rays hit two homers against his former team, who certainly could use his services with a light-hitting backstop tandem.

The forgetful night in the domed stadium came after the struggling Nationals began play with the best road record in the National League. But the Nationals have now lost eight of their last 11, including four in a row on the road.

The Nationals did not get a hit off Rays starter Blake Snell, who allowed no runs and one hit in seven innings, until Anthony Rendon lined a double to left to lead off the seventh with the score 10-0. Rendon was removed for a pinch hitter after outfielder Bryce Harper was also taken out in the lopsided debacle.

And by that time, Washington lefty pitcher Gio Gonzalez had long departed after one of the worst starts of his career.

The first seven batters reached base in the second against Gonzalez, who walked three batters in a row at one point and later gave up a grand slam to Kevin Kiermaier. Gonzalez (6-5), who has not won in his last five starts, was taken out after throwing 43 pitches in the second inning as the Rays took a 6-0 lead. He walked five batters and left without getting an out in the second.

Tampa Bay scored one more in the third off reliever Justin Miller and another in the fourth as Ramos crushed a homer – leading to the fake train noise. Ramos blasted another shot again in the last of the sixth off Tim Collins for a 10-0 bulge.

Snell (10-4) had the Nationals off balance all night and ended up with 10 strikeouts.

Trea Turner lined out to center for the second out in the sixth to almost break up the no-hit bid. The next batter, Harper, grounded out to second as Willy Adames made a diving stop to keep the no-hit bid alive.

The Nationals (41-36) began Monday in third place in the National League and three games back of the first-place Atlanta Braves. The Rays (38-40) have won four in a row after sweeping the Yankees at home this past weekend in three games.

The Nationals made a roster move before the game as reliever Brandon Kintzler came off the disabled list and right-hander Jefry Rodriguez, who started Sunday, was sent to Triple-A Syracuse. Kintzler made a minor league rehab appearance Sunday for Single-A Potomac.

“It was really hot yesterday,” Kintzler said. “I felt good; I feel good today. It is a long season. The chance to get away can go a long way for your legs.”

Washington starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson also pitched for Potomac on a rehab assignment on Sunday and is currently with the team in Florida.

“I feel ready to go,” Hellickson said. “I felt my stuff was pretty good. I feel 100 percent. I will try to pick up where I left off.”

What is next? “I have no idea,” he said.

The Nationals could certainly use a solid starting pitcher, as Monday night showed. Manager Dave Martinez said Hellickson could join the rotation soon.

NOTES: Washington ace Max Scherzer will start Tuesday at 12:10 p.m. and will be opposed by Tampa Bay right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (1-3, 4.91 in five starts), a former Marlins pitcher who is familiar to the Nationals. “I feel a lot more comfortable out there,” said Eovaldi, who plans to get to the park about 9 a.m. … Nationals slugger Harper has six hits – all doubles – in his last seven games … Nationals manager Martinez was a bench coach for Tampa Bay from 2008-14 and his children live in the area. He was given a nice ovation by the fans when he was shown on the scoreboard before the top of the second. Martinez said Monday he will be a coach on the National League All-Star team on July 17 at Nationals Park.


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