Harper’s 3-run home run in ninth pow­ers Na­tion­als

Sec­ond of game seals win over Phillies

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

The Na­tion­als have the lux­ury of a ros­ter stud­ded with play­ers who can con­trib­ute at any given mo­ment in any given game.

They traded highly re­garded prospects for Adam Ea­ton. Ryan Zim­mer­man has got­ten off to a hot start. Daniel Murphy looks to be an even bet­ter player than last year.

Some­times, though, you just need your best player to dic­tate the game. Bryce Harper did just that Sun­day.

Harper hit a two-out, three-run homer 423 feet in the bottom of the ninth to give the Na­tion­als a 6-4 walk off win over the Philadel­phia Phillies (4-7).

With the count full, Harper ripped one to center off Phillies pitcher Joaquin Benoit.

It was his sec­ond homer of the day. “I was try­ing to bat­tle,” Harper said. “Took two good swings right there 0-0 and 0-1, so never want to get be­hind on a guy like that, but bat­tled the best I could and got into a pretty good count right there and got a good pitch to hit.”

Be­fore Harper’s walk-off and be­fore the game even started, Na­tion­als catcher Matt Wi­eters said that one of the most con­sis­tent as­pects of his team early into the sea­son was that Wash­ing­ton’s

start­ing pitch­ers were last­ing late into games.

“You get your starter to give you a chance ev­ery night, it’s huge,” Wi­eters said.

Wash­ing­ton’s bullpen, how­ever, seems de­ter­mined to give that chance away.

In what is be­com­ing a re­oc­cur­ring theme early in this sea­son, the Na­tion­als bullpen is un­able to get Wash­ing­ton (7-5) out of a jam and Philadel­phia took ad­van­tage, scor­ing two runs over the last two in­nings to come back in a game they had been trail­ing since the third.

This time it was a com­bi­na­tion of re­liever Koda Glover and closer Blake Treinen. In the eighth, Glover came in with one out and a man on sec­ond to take over for starter Gio Gon­za­lez, who had ex­ited the game af­ter the Phillies cut it to 3-2 with the help of a field­ing er­ror in left field.

Glover threw a sinker to Phillies sec­ond base­man Tommy Joseph, who sin­gled and brought in the ty­ing run home. This was a day af­ter re­liever Joe Blan­ton gave up a 2-run shot in the eighth that lead to a 4-2 loss for the Na­tion­als.

In the ninth, Treinen opened the in­ning giv­ing up a dou­ble to Aaron Altherr. Phillies out­fielder Odubel Her­rera grounded out softly to first, al­low­ing Altherr to get to third.

Min­utes later, Murphy threw home on a ball fielded in play, but Altherr was safe at the plate on a bang-bang play in which Wi­eters lost the ball be­fore the tag. It gave the Phillies the lead­ing run.

The dam­age, though, could have been even worse. Treinen man­aged to load the bases with two outs be­fore man­ager Dusty Baker gave him the hook for Shawn Kel­ley. Kel­ley got out of the in­ning, but it didn’t erase the fact that the Na­tion­als blew an­other lead.

“To­day I didn’t give my­self a chance to get ahead (in the count) be­cause the balls weren’t mov­ing down,” Treinen said. “So, I’ll work on it and we’ll move for­ward from there.”

Added Baker: “(Treinen) is still learn­ing. I’m hop­ing he’s a quick learner.”

It negated a work­man­like per­for­mance from Gon­za­lez, who lasted 7.1 in­nings.

Gon­za­lez strug­gled with com­mand is­sues early, at one point throw­ing just as many balls as strikes, but only al­lowed five hits while throw­ing 105 pitches. He re­bounded af­ter giv­ing up a home run in the first at-bat of the game to Her­nan­dez.

The Na­tion­als led for the most of the game af­ter Harper hit a 2-run blast in the third in­ning to give Wash­ing­ton a 3-1 lead. An­thony Ren­don also recorded an RBI dou­ble in the first, scor­ing Ea­ton.

Wash­ing­ton took the home se­ries 2-1 against Philadel­phia and will now head out on a 10-game road trip.

“I was telling (Harper) ear­lier in the game that in an­other four or five years he’s go­ing to be a pretty good player,” Na­tion­als left fielder Jayson Werth said, jok­ingly. “I think he proved me wrong once again. That was huge. Bailed us out big time.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ Bryce Harper cel­e­brates his game-win­ning home run with Ryan Zim­mer­man on Sun­day.

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