Johnson on the Harper plunkings and the walk-off loss

ATLANTA - In the last 28 or so hours, the Nationals have lost on a go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth and a walk-off solo homer in the 10th.

The tough 2013 season gets tougher.

The Nats came back to tie tonight’s game 2-2 in the top of the eighth inning and were able to get it to extras, but Ian Krol surrendered a walk-off homer to Justin Upton with one out in the 10th that gave the Braves a 3-2 win and left the Nats walking off the field hanging their heads again.

Taylor Jordan allowed two runs (both unearned) over six innings and Jayson Werth delivered a game-tying RBI single in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough.

“That one’s tough,” manager Davey Johnson said. “We had some opportunities, didn’t capitalize. Jordan pitched great, he was outstanding. We didn’t play too good behind him, but he pitched outstanding six innings, threw the ball great. Drew Storen threw the ball good, I was glad to see that. I’m glad he’s back. We came close, but short.”

The game took an interesting turn in the top of the eighth, when Bryce Harper was drilled in the upper back by a Luis Avilan fastball. This came four innings after Harper had been hit by a curveball thrown by Braves starter Alex Wood.

Nationals players moved up to the top step of the dugout and leaned on the railing after Avilan drilled Harper in the eighth, clearly displeased that their star left fielder had been hit yet again. Harper was hit by a first-pitch Julio Teheran fastball back in D.C. less than two weeks ago after Harper had homered off Teheran in his previous at-bat.

Avilan claimed that he didn’t intend to hit Harper on purpose, telling Atlanta reporters after the game, “I feel bad for him, especially because I don’t want to hit him in that part of the body. It was a bad day for me.”

Johnson didn’t seem sure whether Harper was hit on purpose or not.

“I hope not, cause it’s ridiculous in a close ballgame,” Johnson said. “And they’ve got a lot more to lose than we do at this point. So it would be a ridiculous thing to be doing.”

Johnson was asked whether he felt home plate umpire Marty Foster handled the whole situation well. Foster issued warnings to both teams after Harper was drilled by Avilan in the eighth.

“No, after he got hit the second time, he should’ve thrown him out of the ballgame,” Johnson said. “But it’s their choice.”

Krol has now surrendered home runs in back-to-back days, and his ERA jumps to 3.27 after this outing. After retiring Jason Heyward to start the inning, Krol left a 2-2 curveball right down the middle, and Upton crushed it.

“Well, he made a bad pitch, left it up and over the inside part of the plate, and he crushed it,” Johnson said. “He’s a pretty good offspeed hitter. Just a bad pitch, bad location.”

The Nats went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position tonight and left eight guys on base.

“We just couldn’t get the hit with runners in scoring position,” Johnson said. “We had the right guys up a lot of times, just didn’t get it done.”

Johnson added after the game that as far as he’s concerned, Jordan will not be shut down following this outing. Jordan has now thrown 142 innings this season, almost right smack dab in the middle of the 135-155 inning limit that the Nationals have set for him.

It’s possible that general manager Mike Rizzo says otherwise and Jordan is shut down, but it appears the rookie will get at least one more start.

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