Harper has 4 RBI but leaves early as Nationals pound Padres
The Washington Nationals’ game Friday night provided a good example of the way things have gone for them during the early part of the season.
On a night when they pounded out 17 hits and posted their most lopsided win, there was still cause for concern.
Bryce Harper drove in a career-high four runs, but left early with a jammed left thumb, and Stephen Strasburg pitched seven scoreless innings as the Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 11-1.
"It feels all right. You know, pretty swollen right now, pretty tight," Harper said.
Harper drove in a run with an infield single in the first and had a bases-loaded triple in the third. Following his headfirst dive into third base on the triple, Harper flexed his left wrist.
"I slid into the bag and I caught it a little bit," he said of his thumb. "Went into the dugout, swung a couple in the cage, felt fine. Went out to the outfield, it swelled up a little bit. So (up 6-0) I thought we were in a good spot, and (manager) Matt (Williams) did too, so I got in and got some treatment on it."
He was replaced in left field by Nate McLouth to start the fifth inning.
Williams said X-rays were negative and Harper would be re-evaluated Saturday.
Strasburg (2-2) allowed seven hits and walked two, but struck out 11. He turned in his second straight effective start, lowering his ERA from 5.33 to 4.24.
"I’m just trying to make quality pitches and not necessarily be overaggressive, but throwing the heater down the middle and challenge them," Strasburg said.
Anthony Rendon had a career-high four hits for Washington.
San Diego’s Robbie Erlin (1-3) allowed eight runs and 13 hits over 5 1-3 innings. He struck out three and walked two.
"It starts with the fastball, because that’s the pitch you are going to throw most often as a starting pitcher. If you’re not locating, you’re going to be in trouble," San Diego manager Bud Black said. "That’s what happened tonight."
Everth Cabrera had three hits for the Padres.
One night after going 0 for 16 with runners in scoring position in a 4-3 loss in 12 innings, the Nationals bounced back by going 7 for 17, including 5 for 7 over the first three innings as they built a 6-0 lead.
"The theme’s the same as it always is," Williams said. "We just try to give ourselves as many opportunities as we can."
Harper, who came in with five RBIs in his first 21 games, nearly doubled that.
With runners on first and second and two outs in the first, Ian Desmond lined Erlin’s first pitch to right-center for a double, scoring Rendon. Harper followed with an infield single up the middle to make it 2-0.
In the third, with one out and the bases loaded, Harper drilled a 3-2 pitch off the wall in right.
Three runners scored and Harper, under increased scrutiny since his benching last Saturday for not running out a grounder to the pitcher, never hesitated and got in ahead of the relay.
"I saw the ball hit and it kind of died off that fence, so I was felt like I was chugging it out of the box a little bit, thinking three of course," he said.
He scored on a single by Jose Lobaton.
Pitching against his hometown team, Strasburg allowed at least one baserunner in six of his seven innings, but the Padres couldn’t get a timely hit.
NOTES: The start of the game was delayed 57 minutes by rain. … Washington is 10-1 when scoring four or more runs. … The Padres placed 3B Chase Headley (right calf strain) on the 15-day disabled list and optioned INF/OF Tommy Medica to Triple-A El Paso. They promoted INF Jace Peterson from Double-A San Antonio and RHP Kevin Quackenbush from their top minor league team. Each made his major league debut. Peterson collected his first hit, a single off Strasburg in the seventh, and Quackenbush allowed two runs in 1 2-3 innings. … Nationals C Wilson Ramos (hamate bone fracture) took batting practice Friday and will begin defensive drills and light catching this weekend. … San Diego’s Andrew Cashner (2-2, 2.10) opposes Tanner Roark (1-0, 3.80) on Saturday.