WASHINGTON – Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta won't have many fond memories of his return to Washington.
Thursday afternoon Peralta, who pitched for the Nationals in 2010, learned he had been penalized by Major League Baseball for eight games after being caught with pine tar in his glove Tuesday night. He is appealing the suspension and can keep playing until a final decision is reached.
Peralta pitched Thursday night and served up a tiebreaking, two-run double to Danny Espinosa in the sixth inning, sending the Washington Nationals over the Rays 5-2.
After getting the first two outs of the inning Peralta allowed a double to Jesus Flores. Pinch hitter Adam LaRoche was walked intentionally and Espinosa doubled.
"At that point there you knew the lefties were gonna come up and I liked him on all those guys actually, even Espinosa," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "Tip your hat. (Espinosa's) a hard player and he's been better right-handed then left-handed, but he came through for them."
Peralta wasn't available after the game, but spoke earlier in the day about the suspension.
"I just know that we're appealing right now so I've got to sit tight and see," Peralta said.
"I'm allowed to pitch today and that's all I care about right now."
The Rays dropped the final two games to Washington after winning the opener.
"We didn't get swept," Maddon said.
"When you play a three-game series you obviously want to win the series, but the last thing you want is to get swept, and we did not get swept."
Gio Gonzalez (9-3) pitched six innings on a steamy night when the gametime temperature was 97 degrees. He allowed two runs and seven hits, walking two and striking out four.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the seventh on three walks issued by Craig Stammen and Michael Gonzalez. Ryan Mattheus struck out pinch-hitter Will Rhymes to end the inning.
Sean Burnett worked the eighth and Tyler Clippard pitched the ninth for his 11th save. Roger Bernadina's RBI double in the seventh increased Washington's lead to 5-2.
Tampa Bay scored in the second when Hideki Matsui walked and Jose Lobaton, Drew Sutton and Desmond Jennings singled.
The Nationals scored twice in the third off Matt Moore. Espinosa and Bryce Harper led off with walks, then pulled off a double steal. Michael Morse had a sacrifice fly, with Espinosa beating the throw from Upton, who, after making a running catch, held the ball briefly before throwing to the plate.
"I've gotta get the ball out of my hands right there. It's still a tough play though, for me to stop running full speed, but either way I've gotta get the ball outta my hand," Upton said. "Just a mental lapse, bottom line."
Ian Desmond followed with an RBI single and took second as Carlos Pena held the ball near the pitchers' mound.
"We're just having a hard time on defense and that's not our DNA. We normally play very good defense," Maddon said.
"The mental mistakes are the part of the game that really are devastating," he said. "Physical mistakes happen to everybody on a daily basis. Every major league game that you watch you're gonna see plenty of physical mistakes and mental ones to. You don't want to see them, but you're going to. Today we were just chock full of them."
The Rays made it 2-all in the sixth on Ben Zobrist's leadoff double and a one-out single by Sean Rodriguez. Moore worked five innings. He allowed two runs and three hits, walking four and striking out six.
"He still held serve pretty well," Maddon said. "We had a chance to win that ballgame." NOTES: Rays OF Matt Joyce missed his second straight game with a stiff back. ... Tampa Bay INF Jeff Keppinger (broken toe) will rejoin the team in Philadelphia on Friday. He's been on the disabled list since May 21. ... Nationals LHP Ross Detwiler will return to the starting rotation on Sunday against Baltimore. Detwiler and Chien-Ming Wang swapped roles. Wang will go to the bullpen. Detwiler had been starting earlier this season and said he should have sufficient endurance to start. ... Washington RHP Drew Storen said he'll throw live batting practice on Friday for the first time since elbow surgery in April. ... The Nationals have scheduled RHP Jordan Zimmermann (3-5, 2.92) to face the Orioles' RHP Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.87) on Friday night. ... The Rays play in Philadelphia on Friday. RHP James Shields (7-4, 3.72) faces LHP Cliff Lee (0-3, 3.48).