Bryce Harper

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Nats put Scherzer-Strasburg scuffle aside to split Braves series

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Nats put Scherzer-Strasburg scuffle aside to split Braves series

Bryce Harper homered, Max Scherzer struck out seven in six innings and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 on Sunday.

Anthony Rendon also had two hits and drove in two runs for Washington, extending his hitting streak to 10 games and helping the Nationals earn a split of the series after Saturday's game was rained out. Adam Eaton and Juan Soto each had three hits.

Two days after a heated exchange with teammate Stephen Strasburg during Friday's 8-5 loss, Scherzer (13-5) allowed two runs and eight hits in his third straight win. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has pitched six or more innings in his last 19 starts.

Kelvin Herrera got five outs for his first save with Washington.

The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 55 minutes by rain, and another downpour stopped play for almost 100 minutes between the sixth and seventh innings.

Atlanta's Mike Foltynewicz (7-6) gave up four runs and nine hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Harper singled in Eaton to give Washington a 4-2 lead in the sixth. Matt Adams added another RBI single in the seventh, and Harper added a solo drive in the eighth for his 24th homer.

Scherzer was staked to an early 3-0 lead and then got some help from his defense.

Atlanta rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. led off the third with a drive off the wall in center, but he was thrown out by Harper while trying for a double. With a runner on first in the fifth, Freddie Freeman's blast to right was chased down by Eaton on the warning track.

Then in the seventh, Michael A. Taylor made a leaping catch at the wall in center to rob Dansby Swanson of extra bases with one runner on.

Washington got off to a fast start with three runs in the first. Rendon drove in Eaton and Harper with a triple down the right-field line, and then scored on Soto's groundout.

Swanson drove in Atlanta's runs with a groundout in the second and a single in the fourth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Braves: All-Star 2B Ozzie Albies, who left Friday's game with right hamstring tightness, got the day off.

Nationals: RHP Sean Doolittle (left toe inflammation) experienced extended soreness after throwing off the mound Friday. An MRI Saturday revealed a stress reaction, comparable to a bone bruise, in the bridge of his foot and he is wearing a walking boot. ... RHP Koda Glover (right shoulder tendinitis) was reinstated from the 60-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Syracuse.

UP NEXT

Braves: LHP Sean Newcomb (8-5, 3.51 ERA) pitches the opener of a two-game series in Miami on Monday. He already has beaten the Marlins twice this season, allowing one run in 12 innings.

Nationals: LHP Gio Gonzalez (6-6, 3.72 ERA) opens a three-game series in Milwaukee on Monday night. He is 2-4 with a 4.93 ERA in nine career starts versus the Brewers.

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Cal Ripken Jr. finds nothing wrong with Bryce Harper's swing

Cal Ripken Jr. finds nothing wrong with Bryce Harper's swing

Bryce Harper hasn't been the Bryce Harper we're used to seeing in 2018. 

The 2016 N.L. MVP has seen his batting average drop to a career-low .214 and ranks among NL leaders with 100 strikeouts. On Saturday after their game vs. the Mets, manager Dave Martinez had a talk with the right fielder after he failed to run out a ground ball in the fifth. 

There have been several theories thrown out there as to why the 25-year old is slumping. From simply being mentally checked out to his "unconventional" swing at the plate. But before you take that theory and run with it, baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr. sees nothing wrong with his technique. 

"Were they saying that about it when it was working?", Ripken said Monday on 106.7 The Fan's Sports Junkies, simulcasted on NBC Sports Washington. 

"'Cause its essentially the same swing. And if you look at videotape, there's some subtle difference that you see. He has a signature way he swings the bat. Sometimes your engine's running a little high inside." 

Those who are more in-tune with the fundamentals will find his swing a bit out of the norm, but Ripken would not describe it as "unconventional."

"No, I don't think it's unconventional and I think he's been consistent. It's just the way he hits. Everybody has this unique sort of signature on how they swing the bat and if you're trying to help him, you don't go change everything and say you gotta go. You just try to bring him back to his comfort and his timing and his confidence and then that'll happen. It's proved that his style of hitting works for him and so I wouldn't try to make him somebody else."

Well, that way of hitting obviously works considering he does have 23 home runs this season and just won the 2018 Home Run Derby Monday night after launching ten 450-foot home runs and nine home runs in 47 seconds.  So what will it take for him to carry that momentum into the second half of the season? Ripken senses the need for a clearer mental game during a stressful contract year. 

"It's a slump, so what are the reasons, what are the causes for that? And probably it's a little more mental than physical."

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2018 MLB Home Run Derby Live Blog

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2018 MLB Home Run Derby Live Blog

It's dinger donging time. 

Tonight's the night that Nats fans have looked forward to for a few years now — a Home Run Derby in D.C. featuring Bryce Harper, who's favored to win this year's contest. All eyes will be on Harper and Nats Park and I guess everyone else who's taking part in the event, and NBC Sports Washington will have you covered from batting practice through the last mashed tater. 

Make sure to follow along on our social channels as well, where we'll be sure to be supplying okayish tweets all night. 

10:15: Harper's in the finals! He walks off Max Muncy and will see Kyle Schwarber in the Final Round. He'll have to hit 19 homers

9:45 PM: Kyle Schwarber walks it off! Hoskins hit 20 homers and didn't advance, which is cruel. 

9:40: Buffalo sighting! 

9:38 PM - Rhys Hoskins has some POWER. 20 home runs in the 2nd round and Kyle Schwarber has some work to do:

9:20 PM - BRYCE HARPER IS MOVING ON. Harper walked off with 13 homers to advance to the next round. Nats Park was somewhat into it:

9:06 PM - Max Muncy outslugged Javy Baez and will face off against either Harper/Freeman. MEANWHILE, IT'S TIME:

8:55 PM - They had a quick High School HR derby and one of the contestants literally hit a ball onto the LF concourse:

8:45 PM - Our first drama of the evening! After a slow start, Alex Bregman went on a tear, only to knock what would be the round-tying homer off the wall as the clock expired. Woke the crowd up, too. 

8:30 PM - The ball is flying out so far tonight. Schwarber finishes his 1st round with 16:

8:30 PM - Jesús Aguilar "only" hit 12, so Hoskins moves on from this round. For what it's worth, Aguilar wore his hat backwards and therefore should have advanced. 

8:20 PM - Rhys Hoskins is up first, and after a slow start hoooooo boy did he find a groove. He ends the first round with 17 homers. 

8:00 PM - Bryce is our King:

Stylin' Bryce Harper (6 p.m.)

We knew the Nats' slugger was ready to show his love for his team and the MLB All-Star Game's host city with some spectacular Washington-themed cleats, but Harper took it a step further Monday before the fun started. Harper is hitting in the derby with a special cherry blossom bat, as an additional nod to the nation's capital. 

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