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Nationals' Harper has blindingly bad day

The SportsXchange

Losing a ball in the sunlight and overrunning a grounder in center field made for a tough day on defense for center fielder Bryce Harper.

What made it more frustrating for Harper were his two strikeouts and double-play grounder in the Nationals' 6-2 loss to the Brewers. Harper finished the day 0-for-4.

The Nationals' magic number remained at six because the Braves defeated the Phillies 2-1.

The play that typified Sunday for the Nationals, however, gave Milwaukee an early break in a scoreless game.

In the fourth, Harper lost a fly ball off the bat of Ryan Braun in the sunlight to start the rally.

"You can't catch what you can't see," Harper said. "Nothing you can do about it. The sun monster got me and there is nothing you can do."

Harper said it is difficult to prepare for that kind of play and try to shield your eyes to the very last second before putting up your glove.

"When it is right down the middle of the sun, it is kind of hard," Harper said. "You try to get left or right, try to get below it. I got below the second one and caught it. Nothing you can do; it just happens."

And Harper wasn't the only one blinded by the sun; it also happened to veteran right fielder Jayson Werth.

"When Jayson misses one in the sun, he is pretty good out there," manager Davey Johnson said. "He knows how to use the glove to block out the sun to the last minute and then snatch it, but it was a tough day."

Harper said the conditions got worse as the game progressed, and he remembered having the same issue earlier in the season at home.

"My last one was against the Marlins," Harper recalled. "Once 4:05 (p.m.) comes around, you've got shadows at the plate, you've got the left field stands and you've got the sun monster behind. It is something that happens. You've got to play with it. Hopefully, it doesn't happen anymore."

It may still be a concern, because the Nationals have one more matinee against the Brewers and could conceivably host a few afternoon games in the postseason at Nationals Park.

"We may come out early and shag some fly balls," Johnson said. "It seems to be around 2 or 3 o'clock when they are having trouble."
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