Even without throwing a pitch, Tampa Bay's Joel Peralta left his mark on the game.
The reliever was ejected in the Rays' 5-4 victory Tuesday night when Washington manager Davey Johnson asked the umpires to check Peralta's glove while the pitcher was warming up in the eighth inning.
The check found "a significant amount of pine tar," according to crew chief Tim Tschida. The umpires carried the glove off the field and tossed Peralta.
As the reliever walked off the field, he tipped his cap to the Nationals dugout.
"Good for them," Peralta said. "They still lose the game."
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon was clearly upset with the umpires on the field, and afterward he called Johnson "cowardly" for requesting the check of the reliever who pitched for the Nationals in 2010.
"Insider trading, man. It's bush," Maddon said. "It's bogus. That's way too easy, right there."
Peralta did not directly answer when asked if he intentionally added pine tar to the glove.
"That's a glove that I use for batting practice every day," he said. "I'm every day playing catch with it, it's hot here — that's all I'm going to say about it."
Jake McGee filled in and pitched a perfect eighth for the Rays, and Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth inning for his 20th save.
"If somebody has been known to use a foreign substance on their glove or their hat, a nice hot night is the time to use it, so I asked them to check and obviously he had it," Johnson said. "It was a rumor that he liked a little pine tar."
Maddon didn't deny there was pine tar on Peralta's glove, but he termed it a "common practice."
"Joel is using pine tar and had pine tar in his glove," Maddon said. "I'm saying to suggest he's the only one that's doing it is inappropriate."
After Peralta's ejection, Tschida told Maddon he could request a check of one Nationals player in reponse. In the top of the ninth, Maddon asked the umpires to check Nationals reliever Ryan Mattheus, but no foreign substance was found.
The ejection took the spotlight from David Price (9-4), who bounced back from his worst start of the season. He gave up four runs on six hits, struck out four and walked one. His last time out against the Mets, Price gave up seven runs in five innings.
"It was big for me," Price said. "It was good for our confidence and it was good for my confidence as well."
The only real blemish on Price's night were a pair of home runs. Ian Desmond hit his career-best 11th in the third and Michael Morse hit his first homer of the season — a two-run shot in the sixth. It wasn't enough for the Nationals, who lost their fourth in a row, one shy of their season-long slide.
Washington starter Chien-Ming Wang (2-3) struggled from the start. He gave up singles to the game's first three batters, with the third by B.J. Upton scoring the Rays' first run.
The Nationals tied the game in the bottom of the inning. Morse grounded to third with two outs, but Carlos Pena at first base couldn't handle the bounced throw from Will Ryhmes and Ryan Zimmerman scored on the error.
Tampa Bay broke the game open with four runs in the third, kicked off by Pena's two-run homer to center. With two outs and two on Elliot Johnson nearly outdid Pena, missing a homer to the left-center gap by about a foot. Instead, he ended up with a two-run triple.
Wang was pulled in the fourth inning after giving up five runs on seven hits. Reliever Ross Detwiler — who opened the year as the Nationals' fifth starter — came on and retired the first nine batters he faced before hitting Pena on the elbow in the seventh. That was the only baserunner Detwiler allowed in 3 2-3 innings, striking out three.
Tampa Bay hung on to win for the third time in four games, but after the game Maddon was more concerned about a possible stain on Peralta's reputation, and he believed the ejection would cause players on other teams to change their practices.
"I promise you one thing," Maddon said, "you're going to see brand-new gloves throughout the major leagues starting tomorrow, with pitchers on every major league ball club."
NOTES: Rays OF Matt Joyce left the game in the fifth inning with back tightness. ... Tampa Bay will place RHP Jeremy Hellickson on the 15-day DL and recall RHP Chris Archer from Triple-A Durham to start his major league debut Wednesday. ... The Rays recalled OF Rich Thompson from Durham. ... Nationals RHPs Henry Rodriguez (right index finger) and Cole Kimball (right shoulder) started rehab assignments Tuesday. Rodriguez pitched for Triple-A Syracuse, and Kimball's assignment was with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League affiliate. ... The Nationals will make up their postponed June 1 rainout with the Braves as part of a day-night doubleheader on July 21.