WASHINGTON (AP) Luke Raley homered twice, Drew Rasmussen pitched six shutout innings and the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Washington Nationals 6-2 Monday night for the first 4-0 start in team history.
Isaac Paredes had a homer and a single for the Rays, who have outscored opponents 27-5 in four games.
“Any time you do a first in this organization - there’s been a lot of winning teams here - we’ve got to take that and have some pride in it,” manager Kevin Cash said of his team's start.
Tampa Bay had been 3-0 in 2002, 2012 and last year.
Raley had his first big league multihomer game and did so in front of his parents, who attended the series in Detroit and detoured to Washington en route back to their home in Cleveland.
“It’s special," said Raley, whose mother, Beth, was celebrating her birthday. "Usually when my parents are here I’m terrible, so I’m glad I was able to do something different.”
Rasmussen (1-0) allowed two singles and didn't walk a batter while striking out seven. He threw 50 of 66 pitches for strikes.
“Just getting ahead early," Rasmussen said. "I thought we just had a really good game plan of changing speeds and attacking the zone.”
Trevor Williams (0-1), signed as a free agent after pitching for the Mets last season, allowed four runs - three earned - and six hits over five innings in his Nationals debut.
Jeimer Candelario homered and Dominic Smith had two hits for Washington.
“We chased way too much, but his stuff was good," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Rasmussen. “We knew he threw the ball around the plate, but we got to get him in the strike zone still.”
Washington went 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and is 2 for 23 over four games.
Williams his first two batters before Randy Arozarena beat out an infield single and Raley homered on the next pitch.
“Great hustle play by Randy to get on first and get Luke to the plate for a big, big home run," Cash said.
Francisco Mejía hit a sacrifice fly in the second after a pair of infield singles that didn't make it past the mound, and Paredes led off the fourth with a home run.
“It is frustrating,” Williams said of the back-to-back dribblers. “When you get weak contact you're hoping it turns into an out, especially when I'm the one going after it. It's a play I need to make two times.”
Candelario reached on second baseman Brandon Lowe's fielding error starting the seventh and scred on Lane Thomas' groundout.
Raley added a solo homer off Mason Thompson in the eighth.
Rasmussen had the defensive highlight of the night, reaching behind himself to blindly spear CJ Abrams grounder in the fifth and throw him out. “I was shocked,” he said. "That’s a pretty good one. We practice getting out of the way of those all Spring and then you get in the moment and that’s what happens…sometimes.”
Nationals: Martinez said an MRI of OF Corey Dickerson’s left calf showed only a mild strain and the team hopes his stay on the 10-day IL. UP NEXT
LHP Josh Fleming starts for the Rays, and RHP Chad Kuhl makes his Nationals debut. ---
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