Harper homers again (Detwiler dancing out of trouble)

The Nationals left the bases loaded in the second.

No matter. Bryce Harper got them on the board an inning later.

Harper crushed the first pitch from Reds right-hander Mike Leake, an 87 mph cutter on the inner half, out to right for a two-run homer. The ball got out of the Great American Ballpark in the blink of an eye.

It’s Harper’s third home run of the season. He’s accounted for 60 percent of the Nationals’ longballs so far this season.

The Nats now have a 2-0 lead midway through the third inning.

Leake was able to work out of a jam in the second, stranding Chad Tracy (who singled) Danny Espinosa (who hit a rocket of a double) and Wilson Ramos (who was intentionally walked) by getting Ross Detwiler to strike out swinging.

Espinosa, by the way, is now 3-for-5 with two doubles since shaving his beard. He had talked during the homestand about possibly shaving if he stayed in a bit of a slump.

After finishing the Marlins series hitless in 11 at-bats, Espinosa has been much better clean-shaven.

Update: Ian Desmond’s third error in five games led to an unearned run in the fourth, but with the exception of that inning, Detwiler has been able to work his way out of a few jams to keep the Nats on top 2-1 after five innings.

Detwiler has gotten inning-ending double play balls in the third and fifth innings, a key factor in the left-hander limiting the Reds to just that single run despite the fact they’ve put the leadoff guy on base four times today.

That’s one of the benefits of being a sinkerballer; you get into trouble and have that good two-seamer working, and double plays can bail you out of some trouble.

Desmond, meanwhile, doesn’t seem completely comfortable in the field to begin the season. He got an in-between hop on a Brandon Phillips grounder leading off the fourth inning today, but his hurried throw was way off target and sailed over Tracy’s head into the camera well.

Desmond has trimmed his error numbers each of the last two seasons, cutting them down from 34 in 2010 to 23 in 2011 to 15 last season. Already this year, however, the Nats shortstop has three defensive miscues.

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