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The Tampa Bay Rays finished the second-best homestand in their history [url=http://www.officialhurricanes.com/authentic-adidas-andrei-svechnikov-jersey]Andrei Svechnikov Jersey[/url] , with a much easier path between now and the All-Star Game as they try to claw their way back into wild-card contention.

Tampa Bay (41-40) went 8-1 at Tropicana Field, finishing a grueling stretch of 16 games against the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals and going 10-6 in those games to rise back above .500.

Now the Rays have a stretch of 16 straight games against teams with losing records, including a three-game series at the Miami Marlins (34-51) starting Monday.

The Rays have dominated with their patchwork pitching staff, allowing a total of seven runs in their last six games, with five wins and a 1-0 loss. They took three of four from Houston to close out the homestand and hope to continue the success to take some positive momentum into the All-Star break.

“The fact that we have been winning and everyone has been coming together at clutch moments has been great,” said outfielder Mallex Smith, who had a late solo home run in Sunday’s 3-2 win over Houston. “We’ve been jelling as a team. We’ve been feeding off one another. It seems like someone new coming through at the right time every day.”

Next for Tampa Bay is Nathan Eovaldi (2-3, 4.08 ERA), who played for the Marlins from 2012 to 2014 and will almost certainly fare better than his only career appearance against his former team. In June 2015, he played there with the Yankees and gave up nine hits and eight earned runs in less than an inning, leaving after two outs with a 108.00 ERA to show for it.

Eovaldi has shown promise since returning from Tommy John surgery — his last start against Washington lasted six innings and he gave up no runs, one and and two walks with nine strikeouts.

The Marlins will answer with Wei-Yin Chen, who knows the Rays from his days with the Baltimore Orioles. He has started 21 career games against Tampa Bay, more than any other opponent, and posted a 5-6 record with a 3.72 ERA.

That’s considerably better than his overall numbers this year — he’s 2-5 with a 6.14 ERA, though his last start was solid. He limited Arizona to one run and five hits in six innings last week. Against Tampa Bay last year [url=http://www.officialblackhawksproshop.com/authentic-adidas-adam-boqvist-jersey]Authentic Adam Boqvist Jersey[/url] , he pitched well, holding the Rays to two runs and two hits in six innings.

The in-state rivals will meet again right after the All-Star break for three more games, but the extended run against lesser opponents is something the Rays must dominate if they want to get back into wild-card contention.

Even after winning eight of nine games, Tampa Bay is still 11 games behind Seattle for the second AL wild card. Still, being 42-41 after opening the season 1-8 isn’t bad, especially considering the injuries they’ve dealt with and the talent traded away since the end of last season.

The offense that Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez has been waiting for showed up just in time to prevent a sweep at the hands of a division rival Sunday night.

Daniel Murphy’s single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles as Washington pounded out 17 hits in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

”We weren’t scoring very many runs,” Martinez said, ”and for us to come out and compete like we did today and put up eight runs . and just really work very good at-bats, I felt really good for the boys and I know they’ll feed off it.”

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Phillies manager Gabe Kapler elected to walk rookie Juan Soto and pitch to the veteran Murphy, who began the day hitting .135.

”You pick your poison right there,” Kapler said. ”You have two very good hitters. The first one in Soto has been elite. And Murphy has struggled a little bit. And we went after the guy that was struggling and coming off injury.”

After throwing three 98-mph plus fastballs to get ahead 1-2 [url=http://www.officialavalanche.com/authentic-adidas-martin-kaut-jersey]Authentic Martin Kaut Jersey[/url] , Dominguez tried a slider that Murphy lined to shallow right. Taylor’s single made it 8-6.

”I was watching some film on him and he had kind of gone with the slider as a kill shot to a couple lefties, so once I got two strikes I was aware of it,” Murphy said. ”I hadn’t seen it yet, so that’s never any fun, but fortunately I was able to get it in the air enough and kind of scoop it over Cesar (Hernandez’s) head at second base.”

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams, but the bullpen surrendered six runs.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

RENDERFUL

Rendon has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games is batting .447 (17-for-38) in that span with three homers, seven RBIs and nine runs scored.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. … 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run but left after the half-inning with lower back tightness. … INF Jesmuel Valent锟絥 was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. ”I’m more concerned with the way he feels,” manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. ”We’ll go from there.” … RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. … RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. ”We’ll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound,” Martinez said.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.




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