Steven Souza Jr. dazzles against former team as Rays blank Nationals
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. strode to the plate in the second inning to a loud ovation from the Nationals Park crowd.
Then came a few scattered boos after a single. And silence after his home run.
Souza belted his 13th homer of the season and had three hits to help the Rays to a 5-0 victory over the Washington Nationals in his return to his old home park.
"The way the fans responded, that was pretty emotional, pretty high moment for me," said Souza of the ovation.
Curt Casali had his first career home run and a three-hit game on a night the AL East-leading Rays pitched a two-hit shutout without using a conventional starter.
Matt Andriese (2-1) pitched four shutout innings of relief. Reliever-turned-starter Steve Geltz went six up, six down in what manager Kevin Cash called a bullpen game.
Jordan Zimmermann (5-5) took the loss, allowing three runs in seven innings.
"I thought it was good," Zimmermann said of his outing. "A couple of solo home runs. I can live with that."
The Nationals committed three errors and had just two hits, one night after belting out 23 in a 16-4 victory over the Rays in Tampa.
"Just a blip," Cash said of his team's pitching Tuesday. "And then they move on and just go pitch a tremendous ballgame. "
Souza made his major league debut with Washington last season and played in 21 games. On the final day of the season, he made a diving catch in left field to preserve Zimmermann's no-hitter against the Miami Marlins, one of the Nationals' most iconic moments.
"I know that Jordan deserves all of the honor and I deserve nothing really," Souza said of being remembered by the crowd. "But to have them do that, that was pretty cool."
The Rays acquired the 26-year-old outfielder this offseason in a three-team trade that also included the San Diego Padres.
Souza punctuated his first trip back to Nationals Park, leading off the fifth inning by blasting Zimmermann's 1-1 slider into the Rays' left-field bullpen, roughly 75 feet beyond the spot of his famous catch.
"I wanted to get him out," Zimmermann said. "Couldn't do it tonight. First at-bat he gets a base hit and the second at-bat I hang a slider and he makes me pay."
Casali followed Souza's blast two batters later with a line-drive shot that landed about eight rows deep in the left-field seats.
The Rays made it 3-0 in the sixth when Ian Desmond bobbled Logan Forsythe's potential double-play grounder.
SLIPPERY WHEN WET
It became 5-0 in the eighth after pitcher Blake Treinen and right fielder Bryce Harper each committed throwing errors on Souza's bunt single, with Treinen's throw sailing over the head of first baseman Danny Espinosa in the rain.
"He just threw it high," said Nationals manager Matt Williams when asked if Treinen should have just held the ball. "Of course it's raining cats and dogs and other creatures.slick ball, but if he throws it on the bag he's out."
Right-hander Ronald Belisario pitched two scoreless innings in his Rays debut. And in the top of the ninth, he surprised his new club with long flyout to the left-field warning track.
"That shocked me," Cash said. "I think it shocked the whole dugout."
Rays: LHP Matt Moore came out of his third rehab start feeling strong, Cash said. "Every outing it seems like he's getting more confident," Cash said. Moore allowed two runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings with Class A Charlotte.
Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg could return to the Nationals for his next start following a successful rehab outing with Double-A Harrisburg on Wednesday. "It's a possibility," said Williams after Strasburg allowed one run over five innings. "We have to see how he is feeling after today and how he gets through his bullpen, which won't be for a couple more days." ... CF Denard Span was out of Wednesday's lineup with back tightness.
Nationals RHP Doug Fister (2-2, 4.31) comes off the disabled list to face Rays RHP Chris Archer (7-4, 2.00 ERA), who returns to the site of his first career start.