The Twins scattered seven hits but managed only a couple of runs in a 6-2 loss to the Nationals Wednesday night at Target Field.
The Nationals scored twice in the first against Minnesota starter Martin Perez, then added three more in the third on an RBI double by Howie Kendrick and a two-run homer off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman.
Jorge Polanco's two-run homer in the bottom of the third made it a 5-2 game, and the score remained that way until Trea Turner hit a solo homer for the Nationals in the ninth inning.
Perez gave up five runs on six hits and three walks over five innings. Washington, meanwhile, got a quality start from Stephen Strasburg. The former No. 1 overall pick struck out seven batters and allowed only four hits in six innings.
Minnesota threatened with two runners on base and nobody out in the eighth, but Eddie Rosario, Willians Astudillo and Ehire Adrianza each popped out to end the scoring chance.
The Twins put two runners on in the ninth but Polanco grounded out to end the game.
The Twins' lead in the AL Central is down to 4.5 games and will be just 4 games if Cleveland hangs on to beat the Angels Wednesday night. Minnesota wraps up the series against Washington Thursday at 6:40 p.m., while the Indians are off before they host the Twins in a huge three-game series Friday-Sunday.
Thursday's pitching matchup features left-hander Patrick Corbin for the Nationals and Kyle Gibson for the Twins. Gibson was activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday.