Harper crushes 13th HR to retake NL lead


PHOENIX — Bryce Harper added some punctuation to the Nationals’ 6-4 victory in Arizona on Sunday night with his National League-leading 13th homer, a blow that helped extend the team’s best stretch of the season.

The Nationals have won 13 of 15 to get into the thick of the ultra-competitive NL East race, and during this time, Harper has seen a group in full flower.


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PHOENIX — Bryce Harper added some punctuation to the Nationals’ 6-4 victory in Arizona on Sunday night with his National League-leading 13th homer, a blow that helped extend the team’s best stretch of the season.

The Nationals have won 13 of 15 to get into the thick of the ultra-competitive NL East race, and during this time, Harper has seen a group in full flower.


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“As a team, we are doing a great job,” said Harper, whose homer was projected by Statcast™ at 449 feet with an exit velocity of 115 mph. “Good at-bats. Our starting pitching has been great all year long. The addition of [Mark] Reynolds was huge for us, a power right-handed bat in our lineup. As a team, we are doing a great job of just having good at-bats and throwing the ball well and making plays. 

“Doing all the little things that score big runs.”

Harper’s homer also came on Mother’s Day, the second straight year he has gone deep on the holiday.

Video: Then and Now: Harper homers on Mother’s Day again

The Nationals will take that momentum into a two-game home series against a team that is on an even hotter run, the New York Yankees, who have won 19 of their last 22 entering the series that begins Tuesday night. The Nationals will start Gio Gonzalez and Max Scherzer.

Harper hit a 3-0 pitch for his homer Sunday, only the second time he has swung 3-0 this season despite multiple green lights.

“Three-0, you really have to be looking in one spot, one zone. If the game calls for it in the right spot, he’ll give it to me,” Harper said of manager Dave Martinez. 

“If not, then I’ll take a pitch and see the next one. In that case, got a pitch over the plate I was able to handle and did some damage for us. If it is over the plate, I’ll take my best swing at it. No matter the count, I am just trying to put my best swing on a baseball and hopefully good things will happen.”

Reynolds’ second homer of the game Sunday was what the Nats needed to beat the D-backs and complete a four-game sweep, and the reaction in the dugout was one of relief that extra innings – and a few more hours’ less sleep — were not going to happen.

Video: Must C Clutch: Reynolds homers twice in Nats debut

“There are a couple of other teams out there that could have used a Major League first baseman like that,” Harper said. “So a great addition for [general manager Mike] Rizzo to bring him in and give us a guy who can do some damage. I think we were all fired up.”

Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix.



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