WASHINGTON – Only five games into his major league career, Bryce Harper is already an essential part of the Washington Nationals’ lineup.
The 19-year-old phenom from Las Vegas moved into the No. 3 spot and responded with a tiebreaking RBI double in the sixth inning, lifting the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
“I want to win every single game,” said Harper, who hit seventh in his first four games. “I’m going to try to come up as clutch as I can in those kind of situations. I love those situations.”
The new role in the heart of the order didn’t seem to faze the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft.
“If I’m hitting two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight or nine it doesn’t really matter,” he said. “It doesn’t change the way I’m going to go up there and play.”
Harper seized the spotlight again, but Ross Detwiler (3-1) was equally impressive. The left-hander allowed one run and three hits over 6 1/3 innings in his longest outing this season. He retired the first eight batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning.
“I was really impressed with Det,” Washington manager Davey Johnson said. “He was my star of the game.”
Ian Kennedy (3-1) lost for the first time in 13 starts, snapping a personal nine-game win streak.
Harper also had an interesting night on the basepaths.
He hit a weak grounder back to Kennedy in the first, but the pitcher’s throw was wide and he took second on what appeared to be an error.
The Diamondbacks appealed, and Harper was called out for failing to touch first base.