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Harper is hit twice by pitches and Yankees top Nats

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Harper is hit twice by pitches and Yankees top Nats

NEW YORK -- Didi Gregorius ended a long power outage with a pair of home runs, Washington slugger Bryce Harper left in the eighth inning after he was hit by a pitch for the second time, and the New York Yankees beat the Nationals 3-0 Tuesday night for their 10th win in 12 games.

Harper returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time in three years and fell to the ground in pain when hit on the right elbow by a 90 mph pitch from CC Sabathia (4-1) in the fifth inning. The 2015 NL MVP initially remained in the game but came out after he was hit on the left foot by Dellin Betances' 89 mph slider leading off the eighth. Harper had been hit just once previously this season and had not been dinged twice in a game since Aug. 16, 2013, at Atlanta.

Harper, a free-agent-to-be, walked in his first two plate appearances. He is hitting .215 since May 1, dropping his average to .228.

Nationals All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy made his season debut after recovering from right knee surgery on Oct. 20. He was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts as the designated hitter and did not hit the ball out of the infield.

Gregorius has had a "That's Life" season, following the song's lyrics of "You're riding high in April, shot down in May." He hit .327 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs through the season's first full month, slumped to a .151 average with one homer and five RBIs in May and began the night with no homers and one RBI in June.

He drove a hanging curveball from Tanner Roark (3-7) into the Yankees bullpen in right-center during a two-run second that also included Austin Romine's sacrifice fly. It was just the second home run for Gregorius since April 27.

He sent a fastball into the right-field second deck leading off the sixth for his fourth multihomer game, third this season. Gregorius has hit 11 of his 13 long balls in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. New York leads the major leagues with 105.

Sabathia lowered his ERA to 3.27, allowing four hits over 5 2/3 innings in his first outing against Washington since 2009. He got a loud ovation in the fourth after striking out Michael A. Taylor for his 1,500th strikeout since joining with the Yankees for the 2009 season. The 37-year-old left-hander's three strikeouts raised his career total to 2,893.

Chad Green got four outs and Betances three, and Aroldis Chapman finished the five-hitter with a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances.

New York and Washington finally got a game in as they started a two-game interleague series. The Yankees are at the Nationals next Monday to complete a May 15 matchup suspended with the score 3-3 in the sixth inning and to make up a rainout on May 16.

A big league-best 43-19, New York was coming off a 7-2 trip -- all against teams with losing records.

FAMILY FEUD

Bob Boone, father of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, is a Nationals executive and rooted against his son.

"They pay him," Aaron Boone said. "My boys are actually with my mom and dad in San Diego right now. They flew in today, so it'll be a split household. I know my mom will be pulling for me. And my boys will be pulling for me, that's for sure. So that's fine. Somebody in the house can cheer for the other team."

GREAT GRAB

Taylor made a terrific catch on the warning track to snag Neil Walker's drive with a runner on in the fourth, sliding into the wall with both legs. Taylor stole second two innings later, then was called out on a replay review.

RESTING

Washington gave 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto his first game off since his major league debut on May 20. He is hitting .328 with three homers and eight RBIs.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Luis Cessa will get a few more rehab starts. The 26-year-old right-hander, sidelined since mid-April by a left oblique strain, allowed two runs over 1 2/3 innings for Class A Tampa on Monday night.

UP NEXT

RHP Sonny Gray (4-4, 4.81 ERA) starts Wednesday night for the Yankees after allowing two runs and three hits over seven innings to win at Toronto last week. RHP Erick Fedde could be brought up to start for Washington to take the slot that opened when RHP Stephen Strasburg went on the disabled list. Fedde lost against San Diego on May 23 in his only big league appearance this season. Nationals manager Dave Martinez also said he might use several relievers for a "bullpen day."

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

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Stephen Strasburg returns to Nats lineup after DL stint

Friday night marks the first second-half game of Major League Baseball's 162-game season. 

The Washington Nationals begin 5.5 games out of the first-place Phillies and host the second-place Braves for a three-game series before traveling to Milwaukee. 

One big piece to Dave Martinez's staff who has been missing since June 8 is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander was activated from the DL and will start on the mound Friday night. 

Ryan Zimmerman was also activated but is not in Martinez's starting lineup. 

Prior to experiencing inflammation in his right shoulder during a June 8 start that forced him out of the game early, Strasburg saw flashes of dominance throughout his 13 starts owning a 3.46 ERA with 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings. 

Zimmerman hasn't played since May 9 due to a strained right oblique. With the emergence of Matt Adams, it will be interesting to see how Martinez uses both guys throughout the summer. 

Here is a look at Friday night's official lineup: 

According to Byron Kerr, Zimmerman is still happy to be back, despite not being in the starting lineup. 

Catch the Nationals hosting the Braves Friday at 7:05 p.m. on MASN2. 

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

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8 bold MLB predictions sure to be proven wrong

It doesn't have quite the same feel as Opening Day, but the first games after the MLB All-Star break certainly have their own unique excitement to them.

Teams are jockeying for playoff position, and the trade deadline is rapidly approaching. The Nats have struggled through the first half, but are still within striking distance of a spot in the 2018 postseason, so every game matters.

To help get you ready for the rest of the 2018 regular season, our baseball writers have provided a couple of bold predictions which are sure to be proven wrong by August.

Bold predictions for the second half of the 2018 MLB season:

Ryan Wormeli: 1) Despite the consensus top three teams in baseball all residing in the American League, this year’s World Series champion will be a National League squad.

2) Max Scherzer does NOT win the National League Cy Young award, even though most fans agree he has the best statistical season.

Cam Ellis: 1) Bryce Harper ends up with 45 home runs this season.

2) Koda Glover eventually gets the 7th inning spot.

Michaela Johnson: 1) Nationals win the NL East (I know this VERY bold but like I said I have high expectations).

2) Tanner Roark will get back on top of his game.

Tyler Byrum: 1) The Milwaukee Brewers will drop out of the playoff hunt. 

Every year the Brewers seem to be close to running away with the NL Central. Then, once we get closer to the All-Star break and move beyond they go silent. It’s getting quite ridiculous at this point. Last year they had 50 wins in the first half, finished with only 86.

2) Philadelphia will make a trade deadline acquisition, but it will not get them over the hump. 

There are just too many issues with the Phillies; starting pitching behind Aaron Nola, consistent batting as a team, and the bullpen. They’ve done a fantastic job to piece together a 53-42 record and sit atop the division, but it will be tough to maintain it. 

Right now, they are almost the exact opposite of the Nationals.