WASHINGTON – Bryce Harper stood at the plate with one more unexpected chance to keep his home-run streak going.
Atlanta had rallied from five runs down, so here was Washington’s cleanup hitter, looking to put an end to a game that had somehow reached the bottom of the ninth inning.
Swinging hard at a curveball that nearly hit the dirt, Harper did it again — extending his remarkable run with a two-run shot that sent the Nationals past the Braves 8-6 Saturday.
“Right when I hit it, I knew it was gone,” he said.
Harper homered for the sixth time in his past three games, one off the major league record set by Shawn Green in 2002.
At 22, Harper already had become the youngest player in big league history to hit five home runs in two games. His one-out drive pushed the Nationals over .500 for the first time this year.
“It looked like [catcher Christian] Bethancourt was going to go pick it out of the dirt, but when the guy is going that good, that hot, you’re almost going to have to bounce it there,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And maybe even then he could hit it out of the ballpark.”
The Nationals blew a 6-1 lead before rebounding in the ninth against Cody Martin. Yunel Escobar had a leadoff single, Jayson Werth struck out and Harper hit his 11th home run on a 1-0 pitch.
“Certainly, we don’t expect him to hit a home run every day,” manager Matt Williams said. “But he can get in streaks like this where he sees the ball very well.”
Harper has 12 RBI in his past three games. He also made a nifty running catch in right field in the eighth inning.