Harper sparks Nats past Padres
For a guy who was originally supposed to have the weekend off, Bryce Harper was pretty productive on Saturday.
Harper drove in three runs after talking his way into Washington’s lineup, Ryan Zimmerman knocked in the go-ahead run and the Nationals rallied for a 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres.
Adam LaRoche homered, and Denard Span and Ian Desmond added two hits apiece as the Nationals won their third straight and moved three games over .500 (45-42) for the first time since mid-May.
Harper, who was named to the NL All-Star Team on Saturday along with starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, texted Davey Johnson and lobbied for playing time earlier in the day after the Washington manager said Friday night that he was probably going to give the young slugger the weekend off.
"In his text he said, `Play me or trade me,’" Johnson said before the game. "And so since trading’s out of the question I guess I’m going to play him."
Harper walked with the bases loaded in the third, hit an RBI single in the fifth and drove in the tying run in the seventh with a sacrifice fly.
"Yeah, I mean I was pretty serious about what I said," Harper said of his text. "You know I want to play. I want to play every day and if he wants to put me in the lineup then I want to be in the lineup. And if he doesn’t then I’m going to try and make him put me in the lineup.
"It’s something that I want to do every day and I’m going to grind through everything I do and play as hard as I can and good things happen."
Since returning from the disabled list and homering in his first at-bat Monday night against Milwaukee, Harper had gone 0 for 19 before his RBI single. He was 0 for 4 with a sacrifice fly in Friday night’s 8-5 win over San Diego.
Jesus Guzman hit a three-run homer and doubled for San Diego, which has lost eight straight.
The Padres went 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position Saturday.
Ross Ohlendorf (2-0) got the win, Drew Storen pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 24th save. Soriano allowed a pair of singles with one out, but retired pinch hitter Mark Kotsay and Everth Cabrera — on a diving stop by LaRoche at first — to end it.
The Nationals trailed 4-3 when they came up in the seventh. Span and Desmond singled off reliever Nick Vincent (2-1) with one out, and left-hander Joe Thatcher came on to face Harper. After a wild pitch advanced both runners, Harper lifted a fly ball to left and Span scored easily after the catch to tie it.
Zimmerman followed with a RBI single off Luke Gregerson to score Desmond with the go-ahead run.
"We’ve been playing better lately and obviously scoring runs later in the game and getting hits like that, so (we’ve) got to keep doing that and take it one game at a time slowly just kind of creep up," Zimmerman said.
Trailing 3-1 in the sixth, the Padres got one-out singles from Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley.
Johnson lifted Jordan Zimmermann after he had thrown 101 pitches and brought in Ohlendorf to face Guzman, who deposited a 1-1 fastball in the Padres’ bullpen to give San Diego the lead.
"I tell you, this game is weird," Guzman said. "I’ve had three or four home runs to give us the lead, and we’ve lost. And we win the game (earlier in the season) at home when I get hit by pitch."
Zimmermann, who was suffering from neck stiffness, allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings, striking out four and walking one.
"It’s been going on for a little while, but I’ll be fine," he said. "Today I was just deep in the counts and they were battling and made me work out there, and it was probably one of the hottest games I’ve ever pitched in, so that definitely doesn’t help."
San Diego starter Jason Marquis went six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He struck out three, walked three and also contributed at the plate with a double and an RBI groundout.
"It’s not fun," Marquis said. "Especially after the hole we dug out of early. We put ourselves in a good position to stay in it."
Washington took the lead in the third. Anthony Rendon led off with a single and Kurt Suzuki doubled him to third. Ryan Zimmermann struck out, but Span walked to load the bases. Desmond grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Rendon out at home, but Harper walked to make it 1-0.
LaRoche made it 2-0 when he led off the fourth with his 13th homer of the season, a line drive into the Nationals’ bullpen.
"That was a wild game," Johnson said. "We had chances to put Marquis out of his misery early and couldn’t do it, but kept battling."
San Diego got a run back in the fifth when Logan Forsythe walked and later scored on Marquis’ grounder to short.
Washington got it right back when Span singled, stole second, went to third on a bloop single by Desmond and scored on Harper’s single.
NOTES: Padres C Yasmani Grandal was hurt on Rendon’s slide and left the game with a right knee sprain. Padres manager Bud Black said he’ll go on the disabled list. . Johnson said starting pitcher Ross Detwiler experienced discomfort in his back when he threw his bullpen session and headed for the disabled list. . Black said 2B Jedd Gyorko (groin) did some running before Saturday’s game and hopes to play a minor league rehab game in the middle of next week. . San Diego LHP Robbie Erlin (1-1, 4.34 ERA) opposes Stephen Strasburg (4-6, 2.24) in Sunday’s series finale.