Harper downplays latest achievement


PHILADELPHIA - Seeing Jayson Werth quiet a hostile crowd pleased Bryce Harper more than his own latest accomplishment.

Harper hit his 20th home run, Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki also connected, and the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-4 Wednesday night to move closer toward winning their first division title since moving to Washington.

The Nationals reduced their magic number for clinching the National League East to four.

The 19-year-old Harper joined Tony Conigliaro as the only teenagers to reach 20 homers in big league history.

"That doesn't mean very much to me," the Las Vegas native said. He was more excited about Werth's in-your-face two-run single in the ninth.

Werth, jeered in Philadelphia since leaving the Phillies in free agency after the 2010 season, drew loud boos in the on-deck circle after he picked up a foul ball and faked tossing it into the stands.

The boos grew louder when Werth came up to the plate. Rookie pitcher Justin De Fratus then earned cheers for throwing a fastball high and tight to Werth, who got an earful throughout his at-bat.

Werth got the last laugh with his hit up the middle. Harper then added an RBI triple.

"It gave me a chill after the fans were going crazy with all that booing," said Harper, who stole his 17th base in the second inning. "That was huge. He's been doing that all year for us."

John Lannan (4-0) gave up two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings to win his second start since taking Stephen Strasburg's spot in Washington's rotation.

Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick (10-12) walked Werth on five pitches to start the game, and Harper drove the first pitch he saw 411 feet to left-center for a 2-0 lead.

"That's nothing new to me," Nats manager Davey Johnson said. "I saw him hit a 500-foot homer when he was 14 years old. The thing is, he thinks he should be hitting .400."

 

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