Nats edge closer to division title
PHILADELPHIA—Seeing Jayson Werth quiet a hostile crowd pleased Bryce Harper more than his own latest accomplishment.
Harper hit his 20th homer, and Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki also connected, as the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-4 last night to move closer toward winning their first division title since moving to Washington.
The 19-year-old Harper joined Tony Conigliaro as the only teenagers to reach 20 homers in big-league history.
“That doesn’t mean very much to me,” Harper said.
Harper was more excited about Werth’s in-your-face two-run single in the ninth that extended Washington’s lead to 7-4.
Werth—jeered in Philadelphia since leaving the Phillies in free agency after the 2010 season—drew loud boos in the on-deck circle after he picked up a foul ball and faked tossing it into the stands.
The boos grew louder when Werth came up to the plate.
Rookie pitcher Justin De Fratus then earned cheers for throwing a fastball high and tight to Werth, who got an earful throughout his at-bat.
But Werth got the last laugh with his hit up the middle. Harper added an RBI triple.
“It gave me a chill after the fans were going crazy with all that booing,” Harper said.
“That was huge. He’s been doing that all year for us.”
John Lannan (4-0) gave up two runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings to win his second start since taking Stephen Strasburg’s spot in the rotation.
Strasburg, the all-star righty, was shut down after reaching his innings limit for the season.
The Phillies, who closed to within three games of St. Louis for the NL’s second wild-card spot following a late push, now are on the verge of elimination.
The five-time defending NL East champs are 5.5 games behind the Cardinals with seven left.
“We’ve been pushing real hard and it’s catching up to us,” Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel said.
Kyle Kendrick (10-12) got roughed up, allowing five runs and five hits in just two-plus innings.
Jimmy Rollins hit a solo homer, snapping an 0-for-19 slump. But the Phillies couldn’t overcome a 5-0 deficit.
Kendrick walked Werth on five pitches to start the game and Harper drove the first pitch he saw 411 feet to deep left-centre for a 2-0 lead.
Harper matched the feat of Conigliaro, who hit 24 home runs for the Boston Red Sox back in 1964.
“That’s nothing new to me,” Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said about Harper. “I saw him hit a 500-foot homer when he was 14 years old.
“The thing is he thinks he should be hitting .400.”
Elsewhere in the NL, L.A. dumped San Diego 6-2, New York beat Pittsburgh 6-0, Atlanta downed Miami 3-0, Milwaukee dumped Cincinnati 8-1, Houston upended St. Louis 2-0, Colorado blanked Chicago 6-0, and San Francisco whitewashed Arizona 6-0.