Harper's face plant overshadows Nats' win

Jon Gold, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Bryce Harper saw the ball jump off A.J. Ellis' bat, and he paused for the briefest of moments as the ball carried and carried.
The Washington Nationals' young star gave chase, sprinting past the warning track and directly into Dodger Stadium's right field wall.
Harper lay on the ground for minutes, dazed and flattened.
The young face -- and neck -- of baseball bloodied, Harper finally arose and trudged off to the dugout after imploring Washington manager Davey Johnson to let him remain in the game.
However, Harper wasn't the only one to hit a wall Monday night.
The Nationals ended the Dodgers' brief but much-needed two-game winning streak with a 6-2 victory, their first win at Dodger Stadium in six tries.
"I thought he would try to brace himself or do something, but as the ball kept going, I was like, 'Is he going to stop?' but he just kept going," said center fielder Denard Span, who threw the ball back to the infield and ran to Harper on Ellis' triple. "I thought he would jump, brace himself maybe, attempt to get the ball, but the way he ran into the wall, he definitely had no idea where he was.
"As soon as he ran into it, his body locked up. I've never seen anybody run into a wall like that."
All eyes were on Harper after the game, and he re-entered the Washington clubhouse minus a beard but plus 11 stitches on his chin. Aside from a sore knee and shoulder, the cut appeared to be the only lasting damage for the haphazard hero. Johnson said that Harper did not have a concussion and that his health would be monitored Tuesday.
"I don't want to see him run into a wall ever, but that's the way Bryce plays," Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "That's the way he's always played. Some people look at it as a bad thing maybe, and that's why they boo or don't like him, but as a player, if you play that hard every day, there's something to be said about that."
Added Dodgers manager Don Mattingly: "It was scary. It looked like he ran right into the thing. He hit that chain link out there? That fencing we have is a little dangerous. If you hit that, you're going to feel it, especially face-first."
Harper's injury muted the celebration of yet another fine performance by Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann.
Zimmermann entered the game having allowed a total of one run in his previous three starts, and he maintained his mastery, throwing 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball. He gave up nine hits and didn't walk a batter while striking out five en route to his league-leading seventh win.
Zimmermann (7-1) got into trouble in the eighth inning, allowing three singles and a run before being pulled, but the Dodgers (15-22) did no more damage and stranded two baserunners.
"I didn't have a curveball tonight at all; fastball and slider were good, stuck with mostly fastball," Zimmermann said. "I just wanted to put the ball in play, and the defense played great all night."
Washington (21-17) supported Zimmermann's cause by sprinkling hits throughout the lineup. Eight regulars collected hits, led by Zimmerman's double and three RBIs and Adam LaRoche's single and two RBIs. Even Bernadina added a single after coming off the bench.
The Nationals' consistency, coupled with the Dodgers' surprisingly sloppy defense, propelled the visitors to a 6-0 lead.
Washington scored two runs in the top of the fifth on a throwing error by Los Angeles pitcher Javy Guerra that scored Steve Lombardozzi and on an LaRoche single that scored Harper.
The Nationals added to an early lead that chased Josh Beckett after three innings, his shortest start as a Dodger. Beckett allowed three hits and four runs (two earned) with five strikeouts. He exited after a LaRoche RBI groundout followed a Zimmerman two-run double.
"The problem is that I'm just stinking," Beckett said. "I'm in one of those ruts right now. It seems like if they hit the ball soft, it's a hit, if they hit the ball solid, it's a hit. I have to figure out a way to get out of it."
NOTES: The Dodgers brass maintained that they were unsure where RHP Zack Greinke would be pitching Wednesday. Greinke has been on the disabled list since April 12 after a fight at the mound with San Diego OF Carlos Quentin, and he made his first rehab start Thursday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He is expected to start Wednesday for either Los Angeles or for Rancho Cucamonga. ... Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez, who missed four of the previous nine games due to a neck strain, went 2-for-4. ... The Nationals haven't won a series against the Dodgers since 2005, and they are just 16-26 against Los Angeles since 2006. ... Washington's 3.36 staff ERA ranks second in the majors. The St. Louis Cardinals have a 3.03 ERA.

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