The Nationals keep finding ways to lose. From AP-
Even though he’s batting less than .200, the Tampa Bay Rays continue to show faith in Gabe Kapler.
That loyalty paid Friday night.
One pitch after an error prolonged his at-bat, the slumping Kapler hit a pinch-hit home run that snapped an eighth-inning tie and gave the AL champions a 4-3 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Stuck in a 3-for-31 slide that dropped his batting average to .173, Kapler went deep against Ron Villone (3-2) after first baseman Nick Johnson dropped a pop foul that would have been the third out.
“I was screaming at the ball and I think it heard me and skipped off Nick’s glove,” Kapler said. “I guess I really wanted that opportunity.”
Kapler primarily plays against left-handed pitchers and said he’s extremely appreciative that manager Joe Maddon continues to pencil him into the lineup and bring him off the bench against lefties.
“One of the things I’m most impressed with this season is the fact I’ve struggled fairly significantly, and every time there’s a lefty out there, I get the chance to start,” Kapler said. “It tells me he believes I can get the job done.”
Villone was on his way to an easy one-two-three eighth when Johnson settled under Kapler’s pop foul. He made a slight adjustment at the last moment, but couldn’t hold onto the ball.
“I just missed it. Plain and simple,” Johnson said. “Saw it the whole way, just didn’t catch it.”
With the win the Rays are now .500 barely. Unless Tampa gets it into gear soon, they won’t defend as American League champions.
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