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Harper and Drew, the likely and unlikely heroes in Nats' win


Harper and Drew, the likely and unlikely heroes in Nats' win

The Nationals beat the Braves on Tuesday night thanks to a clutch hit by Bryce Harper, but the eighth-inning rally was sparked by an unexpected source.

Stephen Drew was called off the Nats' bench by manager Dusty Baker in the top of the eighth to replace Danny Espinosa at shortstop as part of a double-switch. All within a four at-bats span split between the top and bottom of the eighth inning, Drew started a crucial double play to help Blake Treinen wiggle out of a base-loaded jam, notched his first hit as a National and then scored to break a scoreless tie on a double by Harper.

Not bad for a player who spent the first 10 seasons of his career as an everyday player.

"It all started with Drew," Harper said. "It's huge. He's got a great swing. I love his swing."

Drew poked a single to center field off Braves reliever Jim Johnson, but the count began with two strikes. Drew stepped out of the box to slow things down and was able to reset and reach base.

"It's good to be able to come in and get a hit," he said. "It's a huge at-bat because you look at the game and Harp comes up in the situation you want him to come up in and he delivers. It's good to be able to do my job and get on for the guys and kind of set the tone for that inning."

Drew recorded his first hit with the Nationals in a big spot and it was the result of some extra preparation he has done to adjust to his new role as a bench player.

"I've basically been asking guys that have been in this situation. It's something new, but it's also a challenge for me and I think I'm up for it. Guys like [Chris] Heisey that have been in this situation before, I really have just asked questions. I've tried to soak in as much information as I can so when I do get that chance hopefully the preparation that I've put in, in the game when the game is going on, it pays off dividends. I was able to do that tonight and it was a big win for us," Drew said.

"That was great. That was his first hit as a National," manager Dusty Baker said. "That’s the importance of the bench I’m always talking about."

Drew, of course, was the appetizer to Harper's entree. The reigning MVP was the one who won the game, slicing an outside slider from Eric O'Flaherty into left field to score Drew and Anthony Rendon, who followed the single with a walk. 

Despite going 0-for-3 to begin the night, Harper jumped all over the first pitch from O'Flaherty to hand the Nats the win and their best start in team history. Just another great game for the Nationals superstar.

"Right guy at the right time," starter Gio Gonzalez said. "Every time he grabs a bat you've got this feeling, it's going to be unbelievable."

"Just standard Bryce I guess," Treinen said. "He comes in in the clutch. I think he lives for those big moments and I’ll take them."

When Harper reached second he pumped his fist and roared to the dugout as his diamond-encrusted 'BH' chain swung out of his jersey. The dugout erupted back at him, feeding off his energy.

"I was just excited we didn't have to play extra innings," Harper said. "Definitely excited, fired up about it. Really just wanted to get us on the board and win that ballgame."

[RELATED: Gio sharp in debut, Harper delivers big hit in Nats win over Braves]

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.


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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.