ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Strong pitching has the Tampa Bay Rays in first place.
Erasmo Ramirez pitched six scoreless innings and the Rays beat the Washington Nationals 6-1 on Monday night.
Ramirez (6-2) won for the sixth time in his last seven starts following a winless stretch of 25 games that included 15 starts.
''Just happy with what's going on right now,'' Ramirez said.
Tampa Bay won for the 12th time in 16 games to take a one-game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees, who lost 2-1 at Miami. The Rays have held opponents to two or fewer runs in 32 of 65 games.
Tampa Bay slugger Evan Longoria left with a bruised left wrist after being hit by a Taylor Hill pitch in the fifth. X-rays were negative. The ball hit the same sore spot that kept him out of the lineup for three games early this month.
''I wouldn't rule out the possibility of playing (Tuesday),'' said Longoria, who had the wrist wrapped postgame. ''There's nothing seriously wrong there. It's a matter of seeing how I feel when I wake up.''
Gio Gonzalez (4-4) gave up five runs and eight hits over 3 1/3 innings for the Nationals.
''You've got team that's red-hot right now,'' Gonzalez said. ''You fall behind and give them a chance to score some runs, they're going to do it.''
Washington slugger Bryce Harper returned to the lineup and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and a walk as the designated hitter. He got hit on the inside of his left leg above the knee in the ninth inning Saturday by a 95 mph fastball from Milwaukee reliever Michael Blazek and didn't play Sunday.
The Nationals got a bases-loaded RBI single from Yunel Escobar in the ninth before Harper lined into a game-ending double play.
The Rays chased Gonzalez in the fourth when Longoria had a sacrifice fly and Logan Forsythe added a run-scoring single to make it 5-0.
Tampa Bay went up 3-0 with a two-run third as Forsythe had an RBI single that went off Gonzalez's heel and Jake Elmore hit a sacrifice fly.
Kevin Kiermaier's hustle helped the Rays take a 1-0 lead in the second. Running hard out of the box, Kiermaier turned what looked a routine single to center into a double. He then stole third and scored on Rene Rivera's sacrifice fly.
Brandon Guyer had a fifth-inning RBI triple for the Rays.
Harper drew a two-out walk in the third to load the bases, but Ramirez got out of the jam by getting a grounder from Wilson Ramos. Clint Robinson lined out to first with the bases loaded to end the fifth.
Tampa Bay's Steven Souza Jr. tied a team record by walking five times. Strangely. He was left stranded on base all five times.
''That's the way the game is sometimes,'' Souza said. ''It's just weird.
Nationals: Escobar got hit on the right hand by Ramirez's pitch in the third, but remained in the game.
Rays: LHP Matt Moore (elbow ligament replacement surgery) had his third rehab start for Class A Charlotte postponed by rain.
Rays RHP Alex Colome (3-2) and Nationals RHP Tanner Roark (2-2) are Tuesday night's scheduled starters. Colome has gone six or more innings three times this season and is 0-2 with a 7.00 ERA in those outings.
Rays C Bobby Wilson cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham. He will join the International League club Thursday.