Harper blasts 13th homer, Nationals hold off Pirates 8-4

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Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about Facebook Email Bryce Harper blasts 13th homer, as Nationals hold off Pirates, 8-4 Bryce Harper’s laser to right field gives him a home run in every ballpark in the National League. Post to Facebook Bryce Harper blasts 13th homer, as Nationals hold off Pirates, 8-4 Bryce Harper’s laser to right field gives him a home run in every ballpark in the National League. Check out this story on USATODAY.com: https://usat.ly/2qqraFk Cancel Send A link has been sent to your friend’s email address. Posted! A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. Join the Nation’s Conversation To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs Bryce Harper blasts 13th homer, as Nationals hold off Pirates, 8-4 AP Published 10:45 p.m. ET May 16, 2017 | Updated 15 hours ago The Nationals’ Bryce Harper hits a two-run home run against the Pirates during the ninth inning at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. (Photo: Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports) 568 CONNECT COMMENT EMAIL MORE
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Bryce Harper has known for about a year that PNC Park was the only stadium in the National League where the Washington Nationals star hadn’t gone deep.
One vicious swing on Tuesday night checked it off the list.
Harper sent a laser to the last row of seats in right field in the top of the ninth for his 13th home run to give Washington’s erratic bullpen a little extra breathing room in an 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Only a protective fence prevented the ball from ending up in the Allegheny River.
Not that Harper was aiming or anything.
“I don’t worry about hitting the ball in the water,” Harper said. “(Former manager) Matt (Williams) used to say ‘It’s not how far, it’s how many.’ Just trying to put the ball in play and sometimes it goes over the fence.”
Or a lot of the time if you happen to be Harper or the other bats in baseball’s most explosive lineup. Such are the riches for the Nationals at the moment that Ryan Zimmerman went 2 for 5 with a two-run double … and was leapfrogged by Harper for the top batting average in the majors (.388). Zimmerman’s two RBI pushed his total to a major league-leading 38, two clear of Harper.
Jayson Werth added three hits and is batting .457 (16 for 35) in his last nine games. Wilmer Difo lined a shot to the seats in center field for his first home run of the season for Washington, which has won four of five.
Stephen Strasburg (4-1) allowed three runs in six-plus innings, walking one and striking out three on a night when his stuff was more ordinary than electric.
“I got a little bit better command wise, but I felt like I was grinding through it all night,” Strasburg said. “It wasn’t my best, but they picked me up.”
Josh Harrison had two hits for the Pirates, including his sixth home run of the season, and also avoided a tag at second base with an acrobatic slide in the sixth. Chad Kuhl (1-4) remained winless since the first week of the season.
More baseball: As Albert Pujols approaches 600 home runs, he wonders: Why not 700? Losing his Kuhl
The Nationals are in the process of running away with the NL East not even a quarter of the way into the season thanks to the best offense in baseball. The lineup wasted little time getting to Kuhl, who hasn’t won since beating Atlanta six weeks ago.
Trea Turner led off with a double and scored on Werth’s RBI single. Strasburg led off the third with a single, moved to second on a single by Werth, and Zimmerman followed one batter later with a double that put the Nationals in front 4-1. Michael Taylor tripled with one out in the fourth, and Difo, who came in batting just .196, sent Kuhl’s pitch to the seats for his first of the season to make it 6-1. Kuhl’s ERA ballooned to 6.69 in eight starts.
“I hate losing,” Kuhl said. “I hate falling behind hitters. It’s a really big challenge for me.” What a relief
Washington’s bullpen began the day with a 5.53 ERA, third worst in the majors. It flirted with letting a lead slip away in the seventh when the Pirates scratched across three runs thanks in part to a throwing error by Zimmerman. Blake Treinen — who began the season as the closer before being demoted — got Harrison to hit into a double play, then struck out Andrew McCutchen to end the threat.
Enny Romero pitched a perfect eighth and Koda Glover worked around two baserunners in the ninth.
“We’re still in the process trying to figure it out and get it together,” Washington manager Dusty Baker said. “But in the meantime our offense is doing the job.” Trainer’s room
Nationals: 3B Stephen Drew is nearly ready for a rehab assignment to deal with his strained right hamstring. 2B Daniel Murphy was held out of the lineup for only the second time this season to give him a chance to rest.
Pirates: RF Gregory Polanco was given the day off to give his strained left hamstring some rest. Polanco was removed from a win over Arizona on Sunday after feeling a twinge. Up next
Nationals: Jacob Turner (2-1, 3.31 ERA) will make his second start of the season on Wednesday.
Pirates: Gerrit Cole (1-4, 3.04 ERA) searches for his first win in a month on Wednesday. Cole has a 2.08 ERA in his last six starts but has been undone by a lack of support. The Pirates have scored one run or less in five of his eight starts.
GALLERY: MLB PHOTO OF THE DAY Facebook Posted! A link has been posted to your Facebook feed. May 16: Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, right, attempts to make a behind-the-back catch during batting practice before their game against the Astros at Marlins Park in Miami. Steve Mitchell, USA TODAY Sports May 15: The Angels’ Luis Valbuena (18) breaks his bat in the fourth inning against the White Sox at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports May 14: Derek Jeter, with help from his wife Hannah, unveil his monument to be placed in Yankee Stadium’s monument park during a ceremony to retire his jersey number. Adam Hunger, USA TODAY Sports May 13: The Nationals’ Bryce Harper is doused with water by his teammates after hitting a two-run walk-off homer against the Phillies during the ninth inning at Nationals Park in Washington. Brad Mills, USA TODAY Sports May 12: The Milwaukee Brewers’ Eric Sogard steals second base in a 7-4 win over the New York Mets at Miller Park. Benny Sieu, USA TODAY Sports May 11: The Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury, right, is tagged out at home plate by Astros catcher Brian McCann, left, to prevent the tying run from scoring and end the game at Yankee Stadium. The Astros won 3-2. Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports May 9: Dogs and their owners walk on the field on Sox Dog Day before the game between the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins at Guaranteed Rate Field. David Banks, USA TODAY Sports May 8: Kevin Pillar of the Blue Jays makes an incredible inning-ending diving catch in the sixth inning against the Indians. Tom Szczerbowski, Getty Images May 7: Cleveland Indians base runner Brandon Guyer gets caught in a rundown with Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifeld. The Indians beat the Royals, 1-0. Peter Aiken, SA TODAY Sports May 6: A fan takes a selfie during the singing of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch at Petco Park. Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports May 5: The Tampa Bay Rays’ Evan Longoria slides home to score a run as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin attempts to hag him out during the Blue Jays’ 8-4 win at Tropicana Field. Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports May 4: Rockies left fielder Pat Valaika pops up a bunt against the Padres. Jake Roth, USA TODAY Sports May 3: Former broadcaster Vin Scully returns to Dodger Stadium for the first time since retiring to be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor. Kirby Lee, USA TODAY Sports May 2: Orioles’ Adam Jones looks up at fans in center field in the third inning, a day after he said he was the target of racist epithets at Fenway Park. Michael Dwyer, AP May 1: Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis jumps high in the air to make a throw to first base against the Yankees during the third inning at Yankee Stadium in New York. Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports April 30: The Washington Nationals’ Anthony Rendon slides into home plate ahead of the attempted tag of New York Mets catcher Rene Rivera in the Nationals’ 23-5 win. Geoff Burke, USA TODAY Sports April 29: Manuel Margot, right, of the Padres safely steals second base against Giants shortstop Christian Arroyo, left, during the third inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Kelley L Cox, Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports April 28: The Yankees’ Matt Holliday is bombarded by teammates after his game-winning three-run home run against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium in New York. Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports April 27: Mariners right fielder Taylor Motter makes the game-ending catch in the stands against the Detroit Tigers. Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports April 26: Pirates second baseman Gift Ngoepe signs autographs after making his major league debut, becoming the first African in MLB. Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports April 25: Blue Jays’ Chris Coghlan leaps over Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina to score in the seventh inning. Jeff Roberson, AP April 24: Rays shortstop Tim Beckham waits in the rain in the eighth inning against the Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Evan Habeeb, USA TODAY Sports April 23: Yuli Gurriel slides safely into home plate with the game-tying run in the ninth inning for the Houston Astros, who beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-4 in 10 innings. Kim Klement,-USA TODAY Sports Fullscreen April 22: Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts (2) jumps over Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop (6) after turning a double play to end the eighth inning during a game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Red Sox 4-2. Patrick McDermott, USA TODAY Sports April 21: Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. scores a run against Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart (16) during the 11th inning at Great American Ball Park. The Cubs won 6-5. David Kohl, USA TODAY Sports April 20: Phillies hitter Maikel Franco (7) slides safely into second with a double ahead of the tag by Mets infielder Neil Walker (20). Brad Penner, USA TODAY Sports April 19: Christian Yelich of the Marlins hits the wall after making a catch on a ball hit by Jarrod Dyson. Stephen Brashear, Getty Images April 18: The Kansas City Royals’ Raul Mondesi tries to avoid being tagged out by the San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford at Kauffman Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff, USA TODAY Sports April 17: Brewers first baseman Eric Thames ties a franchise record by homering in five straight games. Caylor Arnold, USA TODAY Sports April 16: Mariners’ Nelson Cruz is greeted by teammates after Cruz hit a walk-off single in the ninth inning. Ted S. Warren, AP April 15: Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig watches as his ball lands in the bullpen on a 3 run home run. Jayne Kamin-Oncea, USA TODAY Sports April 14: Nationals’ Bryce Harper slides home to score the winning run on a hit by Daniel Murphy in the 10th inning against the Phillies. Nick Wass, AP April 13: Angels’ Cameron Maybin takes a selfie with a fan during warmups. Alex Gallardo, AP April 12: Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer shows off the Cubs’ 2016 World Series Championship rings at Wrigley Field. Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images April 11: Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar misses a triple hit by the Milwaukee Brewers’ Travis Shaw during the Brewers’ 4-3 win. Dan Hamilton, USA TODAY Sports April 10: Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo raises the World Series trophy to fans. Dennis Wierzbicki, USA TODAY Sports April 9: A shadow appears on the warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards during the Orioles-Yankees game. Patrick Smith, Getty Images April 8: Phillies’ Andres Blanco makes a sliding play in the seventh inning against the Nationals. Derik Hamilton, AP April 7: Rangers’ Elvis Andrus celebrates his double against the Athletics. Jim Cowsert, AP April 6: Umpire Quinn Wolcott looks at a baseball that is stuck on the chest protector of Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Scott Kane, USA TODAY Sports April 5: Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar crashes into the wall in the third inning against the Orioles. Evan Habeeb, USA TODAY Sports April 4: Indians second baseman Jose Ramirez stretches to make the catch on an infield fly hit by Rangers Carlos Gomez. Brandon Wade, AP April 3: The Pirates and Red Sox line up for the national anthem. Greg M. Cooper, USA TODAY Sports April 2: Budweiser Clydesdale make their way around the Busch Stadium field as part of Opening Night festivities before the Cardinals and the Cubs game. Jeff Roberson, AP Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries: Replay