ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.(AP) Even though he's batting less than .200, the
Tampa Bay Rays
continue to show faith in
That loyalty paid Friday night.
One pitch after an error prolonged his at-bat, the slumping Kapler hit a pinch-hit home run that snapped an eighth-inning
tie and gave the AL champions a 4-3 victory over the
Stuck in a 3-for-31 slide that dropped his batting average to .173, Kapler went deep against
(3-2) after first baseman
dropped a pop foul that would have been the third out.
''I was screaming at the ball and I think it heard me and skipped off Nick's glove,'' Kapler said. ''I guess I really wanted
Kapler primarily plays against left-handed pitchers and said he's extremely appreciative that manager Joe Maddon continues
to pencil him into the lineup and bring him off the bench against lefties.
''One of the things I'm most impressed with this season is the fact I've struggled fairly significantly, and every time there's
a lefty out there, I get the chance to start,'' Kapler said. ''It tells me he believes I can get the job done.''
Villone was on his way to an easy one-two-three eighth when Johnson settled under Kapler's pop foul. He made a slight adjustment
at the last moment, but couldn't hold onto the ball.
''I just missed it. Plain and simple,'' Johnson said. ''Saw it the whole way, just didn't catch it.''
J.P. Howell (2-2), the fourth Tampa Bay pitcher, worked 1 1-3 innings to get the victory that moved Tampa Bay (32-31) one
game over .500.
Another sloppy performance by the Nationals, who allowed two unearned runs, prompted manager Manny Acta to hold a team meeting.
''We have to make sure we don't give any extra outs,'' Acta said. ''That really ends up biting us.''
had a two-run double, helping his team take a 3-0 lead in his first trip to Tropicana Field since the Rays traded their former
prospect to the Nationals after the 2007 season.
Dukes ability was never an issue during a turbulent stay in Tampa Bay's minor league system and one rocky season with the
major league club. But his temper and several off-the-field transgressions were a hindrance, and the Rays eventually ran out
His first-inning double off
set off a celebration among a group of family and friends who rose to cheer each time the 24-year-old, who went to high school
in Tampa, came to the plate. Rays fans greeted him with scattered boos.
drove in Washington's first run with a first-inning single off Garza, who allowed three runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.
Tampa Bay erased a 3-0 deficit with help from a throwing error by Nationals catcher
that allowed B.J. Upton to trot home from third base after he and
executed a double steal in the third inning.
had a RBI single in the second and
doubled down the right field line off reliever
to drive in the last run charged to starter
to make it 3-3 in the sixth.
Stammen, one of four rookies in Washington's rotation, allowed four hits, walked three and struck out five.
returned to the Rays' lineup after missing 29 games with a neck strain and went 0-for-3 with a walk. ... Tampa Bay LHP
(strained right quad) threw 44 pitches in a simulated game and likely will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment
at Class A Charlotte in the middle of next week. ... Rays SS
(left ankle sprain) began a rehab assignment at Charlotte. He went 1-for-4 with a walk as the designated hitter Friday and
is expected play shortstop Saturday and Sunday before being evaluated. ... Washington RHP
(groin strain) will pitch on consecutive days Saturday and Sunday for Class A Potomac. ... Nationals LHP
(left shoulder tendinitis) will make a rehab start this weekend with Triple-A Syracuse.