It’s also a good thing Davey Johnson was willing to listen.
Harper has bounced back from a rough last few games by drawing a bases-loaded walk and slapping an RBI single in his first three at-bats, producing two of the Nats’ three RBIs and helping to briefly push them to a 3-1 lead.
The single, which came with one out in the fifth inning, scoring Denard Span, was Harper’s first hit since Monday. After homering in his first at-bat off the DL, Harper went 0-for-19 before that knock.
He now has three RBIs in his last two games and also made an impressive sliding catch leading off the Padres’ half of the sixth inning, taking a base hit away from Will Venable.
The Nats’ lead disappeared in the top of the sixth, however, when Jesus Guzman crushed a three-run homer off Ross Ohlendorf, putting the Padres ahead 4-3.
Johnson came out to get Jordan Zimmermann after 101 pitches and with runners on first and second with one out, but his call to the bullpen backfired when Ohlendorf’s third pitch landed in the visitors’ bullpen in left-center.
Zimmermann wasn’t as efficient as he is normally, and failed to go at least six innings for just the third time in 18 starts this season. The heat might’ve been a factor today; it was 90 degrees at first pitch.
He put a Padres runner in scoring position in five of the six innings he worked, and now doesn’t have a shot at his 13th win on the season.
Update: Minutes after it was announced that Harper had been selected as a starter in the All-Star Game, he got the job done again in the seventh, lifting a sac fly to left that brought in Denard Span with the game-tying run.
One batter later, Ryan Zimmerman smoked a single to right, scoring Ian Desmond with the go-ahead run.
The Nats have the lead right back, at 5-4.
Drew Storen then delivered a dominant, 1-2-3 eighth inning to put the Nats three defensive outs from their third straight win.
Update II: That’ll do it. Rafael Soriano picked up his 24th save of the season and the Nats beat the Padres 5-4, giving them their third straight win.
Adam LaRoche made a game-saving diving stab of an Everth Cabrera grounder with two outs in the ninth to preserve the lead.
With the victory, the Nats move to 45-42 on the season, marking the first time they’ve been three games above .500 since May 18.
Truly remarkable, isn’t it?