Arizona at Washington

W: H. Rodriguez (1-1) L: J. Putz (0-2)
HR: ARI - J. Upton (3)   WAS - I. Desmond (3)

Harper sparkles, Desmond belts walk-off wire reports

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper had a hand in everything for the Washington Nationals.

Harper made a tumbling barehanded catch in centerfield and then led off the ninth inning with a double to set the stage for Ian Desmond's two-out game-ending home run that gave the Nationals a 5-4 victory against the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

"He was born for these situations," Washington manager Davey Johnson said of Harper.

In the sixth inning, Harper fell down in the right-center gap while attempting to catch a fly ball off Jason Kubel's bat. As he landed in the grass, Harper secured the ball in his ungloved right hand.

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"I was wondering if anybody saw that," Harper said. "It went underneath my glove, and I caught it with my bare hand on the back side of it."

Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, also had his first multi-hit game with two doubles and a single from the No. 7 spot in the lineup. He scored his first career run in the fourth inning, knocking the ball out of the catcher's glove.

The Nationals snapped their own five-game losing streak and ended the three-game winning streak of the Diamondbacks.

"We needed it," Johnson said. "No doubt about it."

Henry Rodriguez (1-1) struck out two in the top of the ninth to earn the victory. J.J. Putz (0-2) blew the save and took the loss. After Harper's leadoff double, Putz struck out the next two batters before Desmond's homer to left.

"It won't be the last time it happens to us this year," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "We're playing good baseball. We just have to shake this one off and come back tomorrow."

Harper nearly homered in the fourth inning, settling for an RBI double off the top of the wall. The next batter hit a grounder to Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill, who misplayed the ball. Although the ball didn't go far and he started the play at second base, Harper attempted to score.

Hill's throw beat Harper to the plate, but a sliding Harper knocked the ball from catcher Miguel Montero's glove to score his first major-league run.

"I was trying to make something happen at the plate, go in hard and try to make something happen," Harper said.

Harper singled in the second inning for his first hit at Nationals Park. Harper hit a weak grounder to the right side of the infield. Saunders raced off the mound and dove, his glove flying off his hand at the ball, and remained sprawled on the field for a few moments as Harper reached safely.

After being examined and tossing a couple of warmup pitches, Saunders remained in the game and threw to first to start a rundown that ended the inning with Harper caught stealing.

Harper also showed off his arm, holding Kubel at third base on a fourth inning flyout by throwing a bullet to the catcher. The next hitter flew out to left fielder Xavier Nady, not much deeper than Harper was, and Kubel scored.

Even Harper's seventh-inning flyout to centerfield, just short of the warning track, drew gasps.

"He's got a lot of energy," Desmond said. "He brings a lot of energy to the team, and that may have been what we needed."

Jayson Werth singled in the eighth inning after Upton dropped a foul ball, keeping Werth at the plate. That put two runners on base, but Craig Breslow entered the game and retired the next three batters, the final two by strikeout. That also delayed Harper's fourth plate appearance to the ninth inning.

When Desmond came up in the ninth, he followed the advice he previously gave Harper and Steve Lombardozzi.

"Frank Robinson told me that you've got to watch the pitcher, you've got to watch the pitcher, you've got to watch the pitcher," Desmond said.

Desmond saw Putz was elevating his fastball and splitter high, and locked in on those pitches. The victory comes after a stretch where the Nationals' struggles at the plate drew plenty of attention.

"You guys are asking the wrong questions," Desmond said. "We're in first place. We're playing good baseball."


  • Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who's on the disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder, could return Tuesday at Pittsburgh, according to Johnson. That will depend on a Friday hitting session, but not a rehab assignment. "I'll take him cold turkey," Johnson said.
  • Chien-Ming Wang, who's recovering from a left hamstring strain, will throw two more rehab stints of about 75 pitches each before a decision is made on his next step, Johnson said. Johnson said he hadn't decided whether Wang will start or relieve upon his return.
  • Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg won National League Pitcher of the Month for April, becoming the first National to claim honor besides Chad Cordero, who won in June 2005. Strasburg went 2-0 in five starts with a 1.13 earned-run average, a league-best 34 strikeouts and six walks.
  • Stephen Drew (ankle) will play three innings Thursday in a rehab assignment, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said.
  • Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley won National League Rookie of the Month for April. He won both his starts and one of his three relief appearances, notching a 1.29 earned-run average and striking out 15 in 21 innings. "It's nice, but at the same time, I told him to keep the same hat size," Gibson said.
Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Bryce Harper makes a tumbling barehanded catch, then leads off the ninth with a double to set up the game winner. (US Presswire)
Bryce Harper makes a tumbling barehanded catch, then leads off the ninth with a double to set up the game winner. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game

B. Harper
AB 4
R 2
H 3
HR 0

J. Upton
AB 3
R 2
H 1
HR 1

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February 17, 2017
NL West Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks (2:12)
Arizona Diamondbacks
Gerardo Parra, CF5010010 .260
Aaron Hill, 2B4010010 .253
Justin Upton, RF3211111 .260
Jason Kubel, LF4110002 .333
Miguel Montero, C4030011 .291
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B4121013 .246
Ryan Roberts, 3B3012002 .159
John McDonald, SS3010103 .323
Joe Saunders, P3000002 .000
    Brad Ziegler, P0000000 .000
    Craig Breslow, P0000000 .000
   a- Lyle Overbay, PH1000010 .303
    J.J. Putz, P0000000 .000
a-struck out for Breslow in the 9th
2B - Paul Goldschmidt (4, Jackson)
HR - Justin Upton (3, Jackson)
SF - Ryan Roberts (2)
RBI - Justin Upton (8), Paul Goldschmidt (9), Ryan Roberts 2 (10)
2-OUT RBI - Paul Goldschmidt (6), Ryan Roberts (5)
SB - Aaron Hill (3, 2nd base off Stammen/Ramos), Justin Upton (5, 2nd base off Jackson/Ramos)
CS - Gerardo Parra (2, 2nd base by Jackson/Ramos), John McDonald (1, 2nd base by Rodriguez/Ramos)
Team LOB - 6
E - Miguel Montero (3, Missed catch of throw), Justin Upton (2, Dropped fly)
Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Saunders 6.1732260 1.24
Brad Ziegler (H,2) 0.2100110 1.80
Craig Breslow (H,3) 1000020 2.19
J.J. Putz (BS,2; L,0-2) 0.2222021 6.48
Pitches-Strikes - Joe Saunders 94-59, Brad Ziegler 16-9, Craig Breslow 15-10, J.J. Putz 13-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joe Saunders 3-8, Brad Ziegler 1-0
Batters Faced - Joe Saunders 26, Brad Ziegler 4, Craig Breslow 3, J.J. Putz 4
Washington Nationals
Ian Desmond, SS5122012 .267
Stephen Lombardozzi, 3B3011101 .293
Jayson Werth, RF4010012 .274
Adam LaRoche, 1B4010023 .311
Xavier Nady, LF3000000 .123
    Craig Stammen, P0000000 .000
   a- Jesus Flores, PH1000012 .231
    Henry Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
Danny Espinosa, 2B3100112 .188
Bryce Harper, CF4231000 .385
Wilson Ramos, C3120111 .271
Edwin Jackson, P2000022 .182
    Tyler Moore, LF1000011 .250
   b- Rick Ankiel, PH1000011 .227
a-struck out for Stammen in the 8th
b-struck out for Moore in the 9th
2B - Ian Desmond (6, Saunders), Stephen Lombardozzi (2, Saunders), Bryce Harper 2 (3, Saunders, Putz)
HR - Ian Desmond (3, Putz)
RBI - Ian Desmond 2 (10), Stephen Lombardozzi (4), Bryce Harper (2)
2-OUT RBI - Ian Desmond 2 (5), Stephen Lombardozzi (4), Bryce Harper (1)
SB - Danny Espinosa (1, 2nd base off Saunders/Montero)
CS - Adam LaRoche (1, 2nd base by Saunders/Montero), Bryce Harper (1, 2nd base by Saunders/Montero)
Team LOB - 6
DP - Desmond-Espinosa-LaRoche, Ramos-Espinosa-LaRoche
E - Xavier Nady (1, Misplayed grounder)
Washington Nationals
Edwin Jackson 6844231 3.69
Craig Stammen 2200010 0.71
Henry Rodriguez (W,1-1) 1100020 1.80
IBB - McDonald by Edwin Jackson
Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 92-58, Craig Stammen 22-14, Henry Rodriguez 12-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 6-8, Craig Stammen 3-1
Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 27, Craig Stammen 7, Henry Rodriguez 3
Game Information
Attendance - 16274
Game Time - 3:03
Temperature - 64
Umpires - Home - Bill Welke, First Base - Tim Tschida, Second Base - Chris Guccione, Third Base - Jeff Nelson