Nationals-Rays Preview

Almost all of the Tampa Bay Rays' losses over the past two-plus weeks have come in games Alex Colome has started. He can't be blamed for the last couple of defeats, however.

Colome looks for his first win in five outings Tuesday night in the second of two home matchups with the Washington Nationals before the teams head to the nation's capital for another pair of meetings.

Tampa Bay (36-29) cruised to a 6-1 victory Monday to extend its winning streak to four and move into sole possession of first place in the AL East. It was the Rays' 12th victory in 16 games, but they're 0-3 over that span when handing the ball to Colome (3-2, 4.21 ERA).

The right-hander, however, has allowed one run in each of his last two starts covering 11 1-3 innings while the Rays have scored a total of three times. He left with a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning Thursday before the bullpen crumbled in a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. It was the fourth time in five home outings that he allowed two or fewer runs.

Colome will be opposed by Tanner Roark (2-2, 3.71), who got off to a nice start with a 2.45 ERA in his first two outings at the end of May after Doug Fister went on the 15-day disabled list.

The right-hander, though, has posted a 6.57 ERA in two this month and has allowed seven home runs over 23 1-3 innings as a starter after giving up two in 20 1-3 spanning 13 relief appearances.

Roark didn't receive a decision Thursday in Milwaukee as he failed to hold a 5-1 lead, allowing a tying solo homer with one out in the seventh inning of a 6-5 loss.

"We should've came out with the win," Roark said. "That's on my shoulders for not keeping it there and letting them back in the game."

Logan Forsythe went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and Joey Butler had another two hits Monday as the Rays prevented the Nationals (33-31) from winning three in a row. Butler has batted .400 in his last 15 games.

The Rays lost third baseman Evan Longoria after he was hit in the left wrist by a pitch. The team said X-rays were negative and he's day to day.

''I wouldn't rule out the possibility of playing (Tuesday),'' Longoria said. ''There's nothing seriously wrong there. It's a matter of seeing how I feel when I wake up.''

Bryce Harper returned to the Nationals' lineup after missing Sunday's game with a leg injury suffered on a hit by pitch a day earlier. He went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts as the designated hitter after going 9 for 17 with two homers and five RBIs in his previous five games.

"I think it's difficult when you play every day to DH, but it was the only way we could get him in the lineup today to give his leg one more day to rest," manager Matt Williams said. "I fully anticipate he'll be in (the outfield) tomorrow."

No one on the Nationals has ever faced Colome while catcher Rene Rivera is the only active Rays player to bat against Roark, going 2 for 5 last season while with San Diego.

Tampa Bay has won four straight and seven of eight at home in the series.

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