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Harper steals show as Nationals beat Diamondbacks
Highly touted Harper makes barehanded catch, goes 3-for-4 as Nationals top Diamondbacks, 5-4
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' Bryce Harper made a tumbling barehanded catch in centerfield and then led off the ninth inning with a double to set the stage for Ian Desmond's two-out game-ending home run that gave the Washington Nationals a 5-4 victory over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night.

In the sixth inning, Harper fell down in the right-center gap while attempting to catch a fly ball off Jason Kubel's bat. As he landed in the grass, Harper secured the ball in his ungloved right hand.

Harper, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, also had his first multi-hit game with two doubles and a single. He scored his first career run in the fourth inning, knocking the ball out of the catcher's glove.

The Nationals snapped their own five-game losing streak and ended the three-game winning streak of the Diamondbacks.

Henry Rodriguez (1-1) struck out two in the top of the ninth to earn the win. J.J. Putz (0-2) blew the save and took the loss. After Harper's leadoff double, Putz struck out the next two batters before Desmond's homer to left.

Harper nearly homered in the fourth inning, settling for an RBI double off the top of the wall. The next batter hit a grounder to Arizona second baseman Aaron Hill, who misfielded the ball. Although the ball didn't go far and he started the play at second base, Harper attempted to score.

Hill's throw beat Harper to the plate, but a sliding Harper knocked the ball from catcher Miguel Montero's glove to score his first major-league run.

Harper singled in the second inning for his first hit at Nationals Park. Harper hit a weak grounder to the right side of the infield. Saunders raced off the mound and dove, his glove flying off his hand at the ball, and remained sprawled on the field for a few moments as Harper reached safely.

After being examined and tossing a couple of warmup pitches, Saunders remained in the game and threw to first to start a rundown that ended the inning with Harper caught stealing.

Harper also showed off his arm, holding Jason Kubel at third base on a fourth inning flyout by throwing a bullet to the catcher. The next hitter flew out to left fielder Xavier Nady, not much deeper than Harper was, and Kubel scored.

Even Harper's seventh-inning flyout to centerfield, just short of the warning track, drew gasps.

Jayson Werth singled in the eighth inning after Upton dropped a foul ball, keeping Werth at the plate. That put two runners on base, but Craig Breslow entered the game and retired the next three batters, the final by strikeout. That also delayed Harper's fourth plate appearance to the ninth inning.

Edwin Jackson, who allowed four earned runs and eight hits in six innings, took a no-decison.

Steve Lombardozzi's third-inning double gave Washington a 1-0 lead when catch Wilson Ramos, who was running from first on the pitch, scored on the play.

Joe Saunders also took a no-decision, allowing two earned runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.

Justin Upton homered in the fourth inning for Arizona, and Paul Goldschmidt doubled in a run and later scored in the sixth inning.

Notes: Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, who's on the disabled list with an inflamed right shoulder, could return Tuesday at Pittsburgh, according to Washington manager Davey Johnson. That will depend on a Friday hitting session, but not a rehab assignment. "I'll take him cold turkey," Johnson said. . Chien-Ming Wang, who's recovering from a left hamstring strain, will throw two more rehab stints of about 75 pitches each before , Johnson said. Johnson said he hadn't decided whether Wang will start or relieve upon his return. . Washington pitcher Stephen Strasburg won National League Pitcher of the Month for April, becoming the first National to claim honor besides Chad Cordero, who won in June 2005. Strasburg went 2-0 in five starts with a 1.13 earned-run average, a league-best 34 strikeouts and six walks. . Stephen Drew (ankle) will play three innings Thursday in a rehab assignment, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. . Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley won National League Rookie of the Month for April. He won both his starts and one of his three relief appearances, notching a 1.29 earned-run average and striking out 15 in 21 innings. "It's nice, but at the same time, I told him to keep the same hat size," Gibson said.

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