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Harper convinces Johnson to let him play, leads Nationals to 5-4 win over Padres

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON - After Friday night's win, Washington manager Davey Johnson told reporters he planned to rest Bryce Harper on Saturday and maybe on Sunday.

But then the 20-year-old, as his generation is wont to do, took to social media. Harper tweeted late Friday to Johnson that he wanted to be in the lineup Saturday.

And he was. Harper had one hit in two at bats and drove in three as the Nationals came back to beat the San Diego Padres 5-4.

"I was pretty serious. I want to play. I want to play every day," Harper said of the plea to his skipper.

Around the same time Harper and Jordan Zimmermann, the starting pitcher for the Nationals on Saturday, were named to the National League All-Star team.

"I am very excited. I am very blessed. I am looking forward to it," Harper said of his second All-Star selection.

Ryan Zimmerman drove in the go-ahead run with a broken-bat single to right field in the seventh inning for the Nats.

"We are starting to play better baseball," he said. "We have to keep doing that and slowly creep" up the standings.

It was the eighth loss in a row for the Padres (40-48), who end a rough road trip here on Sunday. Jason Marquis, who was talking to Harper outside of the clubhouse after the game, went six innings and allowed three runs against his former team but did not factor in the decision.

"He did his part," manager Bud Black said of Marquis. "Jason pitched his butt off. He gave us six good innings. This is a tough one (to lose)."

The Padres were one-of-14 with runners in scoring position.

Harper tied the game at 4-4 in the seventh on a sacrifice fly to left against left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher. The Padres brought in righty Luke Gregerson and Zimmerman came through with the two-out hit to score Ian Desmond.

Jesus Guzman gave San Diego a 4-3 lead in the sixth when he crushed a three-run homer against Washington reliever Ross Ohlendorf, who was facing his first batter in place of Zimmermann.

Carlos Quentin and Chase Headley had back-to-back singles in the sixth before Ohlendorf came in to face Guzman.

The Nationals (45-42) have not been three games over .500 since May 18 when they were 23-20. Since then, there were four times Washington was two games over .500 and each time it lost the next game. But that was not the case Saturday.

Harper gave Washington a 3-1 lead in the fifth on an RBI single to score Denard Span. It was the first hit for Harper since he had gone 0-for-19.

Adam LaRoche hit his 13th homer of the year to give Washington a 2-0 lead in the fourth. Harper walked with the bases loaded in the third to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead.

Zimmermann got a no-decision after giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings. He leads the National League in wins with 12 and has not lost at home since May 2012.

Drew Storen pitched a clean eighth and Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 24th save. Ohlendorf got the win and is 2-0. Nick Vincent got the loss and is 2-1.

NOTES: The Nationals' offense is starting to make noise, adding five runs to the eight each Thursday and Friday. "We have a deep lineup," CF Denard Span said. ... Despite a double and homer on Friday, Headley was hitting .176 in his last 10 games. ... Washington RHP Tyler Clippard, in his last 13 outings out of the bullpen, is 3-0 with an ERA of 0.66 ... San Diego C Yasmani Grandal left the game in the third when Anthony Rendon slid into him on a force at the plate with the bases loaded. Grandal had a right knee sprain and was to be evaluated after the game. Nick Hundley took over as catcher. "He was in lot of pain," Black said of Grandal, who is likely headed to the disabled list.
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