Bryce Harper gets last laugh in return to D.C. as Phillies best Nationals 8-2

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Nationals fans were elated as Bryce Harper fell victim to Max Scherzer, striking out in each of his first two trips to the plate in his return to Nationals Park, his former home. The Phillies’ $330 million man had the last laugh, however. Harper finished 3-for-5, a triple shy of the cycle, with three RBI. The Phillies beat the Nationals 8-2, remaining baseball’s only unbeaten team at 4-0.

The contingent of Phillies fans that made the trip down to the nation’s capital drowned out boos by chanting, “We got Harper!” after the star’s sixth-inning single and his eighth-inning dinger. Nationals fans, some of whom defaced and destroyed their Harper jerseys, were left with nothing to do but sit in stunned silence.

Phillies starter Zach Eflin out-dueled Scherzer, tossing five shutout innings on 85 pitches, registering nine strikeouts while yielding only three hits a walk. Scherzer logged five innings on 96 pitches, serving up a pair of runs (one earned) on seven hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.

Third baseman and No. 8 hitter Maikel Franco opened the scoring in the second inning, ripping a home run to left field off of Scherzer. In the fourth, catcher Yan Gomes was unable to block a Scherzer pitch in the dirt, which allowed Odúbel Herrera to score the second run. In the sixth, Herrera led off with a double and advanced to third base on a wild pitch by Wander Suero. Suero bounced back, striking out César Hernández. Manager Dave Martinez had Suero intentionally walk Franco to put runners on the corners, then brought in lefty reliever Matt Grace, which forced Phillies manager Gabe Kapler to pinch-hit for Eflin with Nick Williams. Grace struck out Williams, then walked Andrew McCutchen to load the bases for Jean Segura. Segura snuck a ground ball down the right field line, bringing home three runs. Harper came up next and lined a single to left-center, bringing home the sixth run of the game. He advanced to second base on the throw home.

Anthony Rendon put the Nationals on the board in the bottom of the sixth, lifting a two-run home run off of lefty reliever José Álvarez. Harper got those runs back for the Phillies in the top of the eighth, smashing a Jeremy Hellickson fastball into the second deck in right-center, pushing the Phillies’ lead back to six runs at 8-2. The blast was measured at 458 feet.

Adam Morgan worked a scoreless bottom of the eighth for the Phillies to bring the game into the final frame. Vince Velasquez got the ball in the ninth. At this point, the seats at Nationals Park on this cold and rainy night were mostly empty, save for Phillies fans. Velasquez got Ryan Zimmerman to ground out, then struck out Yan Gomes and Brian Dozier to end the game.

Harper got the spotlight, but Franco also deserves to be mentioned. Along with the homer, he was intentionally walked three times and singled. He has reached base five times without aid of a fielding error just twice before in his career.

The Phillies are 4-0 to start the season. The only other time the Phillies started a season 4-0 were 1897 and 1915.

The two clubs will match up on Wednesday afternoon for the finale of the two-game set. They meet again in Philly on Monday for a three-game series. This could be the start of a terrific rivalry in a highly competitive NL East.

Twins tie team record with 8 homers in 16-7 win over Angels

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Miguel Sano and Jonathan Schoop each hit two of Minnesota’s franchise record-tying eight home runs and the Twins hammered Matt Harvey and the Los Angeles Angels 16-7 Thursday.

C.J. Cron homered, doubled twice and singled twice for the Twins. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario also homered for Minnesota.

It was the third time in franchise history – dating to their days as the Washington Senators – and second time this season Minnesota homered eight times. Before doing it April 20 against Baltimore, the last time it happened was in 1963 against Washington.

Schoop drove in four runs and Sano three as the Twins won six of seven on their road trip that began in Seattle and wound up with their first sweep in Anaheim since 1996. Minnesota, with the best record in the majors, hit 22 homers against the Mariners and the Angels while outscoring them 67-24.

There were a total of 11 home runs in this game, which was originally set for Wednesday but postponed due to unplayable field conditions following a pregame storm.

Angels first baseman Jared Walsh, who made five relief appearances in Triple-A this season, pitched for the first time in the majors. He gave up a run on two hits and a walk in the ninth.

The eight home runs also tied the Angels mark for most allowed. It previously happened in 2005 against Texas and 1996 vs. Oakland.

Four of the seven hits Matt Harvey (2-4) allowed in 2 2/3 innings went over the wall as the right-hander gave up eight runs for the second time this season.

Tommy La Stella hit his first grand slam in the ninth for the Angels, who have dropped four straight. David Fletcher and Brian Goodwin also homered for Los Angeles.

Minnesota broke open the game in the second inning with six runs, which included a three-run shot by Schoop and two-run drive by Polanco. Harvey was chased in the third after solo homers by Cron and Sano.

The Twins hit three home runs in the seventh to extend their lead to 14-2. Sano’s two-run shot and Schoop’s solo homer marked the sixth time the Twins had gone back-to-back this season. Kepler added a two-run drive.

Twins starter Martin Perez (7-1) went five innings and yielded two runs on five hits.

TOUGH DAY

Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun came up twice with the bases loaded but was unable to get a hit. He struck out in the third and grounded into a force out to end the fifth.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: DH Nelson Cruz (left wrist sprain) returned to Minneapolis. He is eligible to come off the injured list on Friday but manager Rocco Baldelli said they are still seeing how he is doing swinging during batting practice.

Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons (left ankle sprain) saw a foot and ankle specialist Wednesday and expects to remain in a walking boot for at least two weeks. . LHP Andrew Heaney (elbow) had a bullpen session before Thursday’s game and could make his season debut Sunday.

UP NEXT

Twins: Return home and open a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. RHP Jose Berrios (6-2, 3.39 ERA) has seven or more strikeouts in his last four starts.

Angels: Conclude their home stand with three games against Texas. RHP Griffin Canning (2-3, 3.80 ERA), who became the second LA starter to go seven innings last Saturday against Kansas City, gets the call on Friday.

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