"Guys swung it really good tonight," Kevin Kiermaier said. "And finally, our offense broke out a little bit. Just good all across the board."
The win extended the Rays' winning streak to four games.
Kiermaier scored the Rays' first run on Rene Rivera's sacrifice fly in the second. The Rays then loaded the bases in three consecutive innings, coming away with five additional runs to take a 6-0 lead.
Ramirez minted his career-high sixth win, and his sixth win in his past seven starts. Meanwhile, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez took the loss after surrendering five runs on eight hits and three walks in 3 1/3 innings.
"We got behind early, and after that, [Ramirez] got a little confidence going, got into a rhythm. It was just tough to battle back once we got behind very early," said Nats center fielder Denard Span.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Manufactured run: Kiermaier hit a ground ball through the middle with one out in the second. The speedy Rays outfielder immediately turned the single into a double, arriving at second base via a head-first slide. With Rivera batting, Kiermaier then stole third, setting the table for Rivera to drive him home with a sacrifice fly to shallow center to give the Rays a 1-0 lead and kick-start the offense. More >
Not in the cards for Gio: Gonzalez had his shortest start of the year. His worst innings occurred in the third and fourth, when he allowed a combined four runs. Manager Matt Williams said Gonzalez couldn't throw the ball where he wanted to throw it.
"He got behind hitters, lost command of the strike zone. He didn't have any command at all today. He has to work on that," Williams said. "Everything was up, everything was middle, he didn't hit any corners. The ball wasn't down." More >
Problems with the bats: The Nats had a tough time getting going on offense, collecting five hits and leaving 10 runners on base during the first eight innings. They had the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings, but didn't score. But that all changed against Xavier Cedeno in the ninth inning when Michael Taylor scored on a single by Yunel Escobar. The game ended with Bryce Harper lining into a double play with the bases loaded.
Walk this way:Steven Souza Jr. faced his former Nationals teammates for the first time and he exacted his revenge one walk at a time. The Rays right fielder walked three times to load the bases during Rays rallies and five times in all. Ironically, he did not score.
"We just got guys in, we got guys over. It was just an awesome game." -- Souza, on the Rays win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Ramirez is 6-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his past 14 appearances (eight starts) since April 19. Prior to that, he had a 25.31 ERA. More >
Souza Jr. became the first player to walk five times in a game against the Nationals. Prior to Monday, there were six players to collect four walks in a game against Washington. The last person to do so was Prince Fielder on Aug. 22, 2009.
"He did a nice job of laying off some pitches. We were unable to put him away. We weren't able to get him to swing the bat without walking him," Williams said about Souza Jr.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals: Right-hander Tanner Roark could make be making his last start before going back to the bullpen. Roark has done an OK job since he went back to the rotation, going 2-2 with a 4.64 ERA in four starts. The second game of the series starts at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Rays:Alex Colome (3-2, 4.21 ERA) will make his 10th start of the season. His only career Interleague start came in his Major League debut against the Marlins on May 30, 2013, when he held the Marlins to no earned runs in 5 2/3 innings to earn the win. Of his 15 career starts, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer 11 times and has yielded no earned runs six times.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.