Nationals snap skid
MIAMI—Bryce Harper’s first two-homer game ended with his latest tantrum.
The quick-tempered rookie was ejected for spiking his helmet in the ninth inning and drew a scolding from manager Davey Johnson—even though he helped the first-place Washington Nationals snap a five-game losing streak by beating the Miami Marlins 8-4 last night.
After he crossed the bag, he angrily spiked his helmet and it nearly hit first base umpire C.B. Bucknor, who ejected him.
“Bryce couldn’t control his emotions again,” Johnson said. “I had a little chat with him.
“He’ll get over it. He’s just a hundred-percenter. He expects great things out of himself, breaks bats, throws his helmet.
“He’s just got to stop it. We can’t afford to be losing him in a ball game,” Johnson stressed.
“He’ll learn. He’s young.”
Harper’s most notorious outburst came in May, when he slammed his bat against the side of a tunnel in frustration, and the barrel smacked off the wall and hit his temple just above the left eye—causing a gash that needed 10 stitches.
He was unhurt but sheepish after the latest incident.
“I shouldn’t have done it, but I don’t like hitting into double plays,” said Harper, 19. “I just need to stop getting mad and live with it.
“I just need to grow up in that mentality a little bit and try not to bash stuff in.
“I’ve always done it my whole life. Things need to change,” he admitted.
His swing the Nationals like just fine. Harper hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning and added a solo shot in the fifth, giving the rookie 14 this season.
“I felt good up there,” Harper said. “I saw some pitches I could drive and did some damage.”
Before the game, Johnson called a brief team meeting, which he described as upbeat.
The pep talk stirred the Nationals’ bats as they had 14 hits.
“That ball club is in first place for a reason,” said Marlins’ manager Ozzie Guillen.
“They can hit.”
But lately the Nationals’ bats had been quiet. They totalled only six runs during the losing streak, which matched their longest of the season and had reduced their NL East lead over second-place Atlanta from seven games to four.
“We’re still the team in first place,” Harper noted. “Everybody is getting ahead of everything and saying we’re struggling.
“We went through a skid. That happens,” he reasoned.
“Everybody is trying to catch us; it’s harder for them.”
Elsewhere in the NL, L.A. topped Colorado 10-8, Cincinnati beat Arizona 6-2, San Diego dumped Atlanta 8-2, New York nipped Philadelphia 3-2, Pittsburgh blanked St. Louis 5-0, Milwaukee downed Chicago 3-1, and San Francisco upended Houston 6-4.