Bryce Harper can’t explain why the Nationals struggle against the Braves, nor is the slugging outfielder really concerned with Atlanta’s early-season dominance. Going 1-5 against one club during the first two weeks of the regular season isn’t any reason to panic, Harper said after the Nats were shellacked 10-2 at Turner Field on Sunday, with the Braves finishing off a weekend sweep.
“It sucks coming here to lose,” Harper said. “Nobody wants to lose. But like I said, it’s part of the game. Sometimes you gotta tip your cap a little bit and hopefully, when they come back to our place, win that series. We just gotta keep winning series and keep doing what we can do to win ballgames and keep going as a team and keeping pulling the same rope.”
Harper’s doing his share of late. After going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks Sunday, he’s got a six-game hitting sreak and is on a 10-for-21 binge that’s raised his average to .310.
“I feel pretty good,” he said.
Shortstop Ian Desmond committted one of the Nats’ three Sunday errors when he failed to cleanly field a grounder that led to four unearned runs in the eighth. Washington was charged with seven errors during the weekend series at Turner Field.
“We’re shooting ourselves in the foot,” Desmond said. “You can’t be mad at anybody but yourself. So you swallow that down and keep on playing and you’re still going uphill. No one is going to sit in the corner and cry about it. But at the same time, we know it’s a tough hill to climb.”
But losing to a team think they can beat is harder to take, Desmond said.
“It’s tough. It sucks getting beat,” he said. “We know we can play with them. Maybe try something different next time.”
Outfielder Nate McLouth was in the original lineup playing center field, but he tweaked his left knee throwing in the outfield before the game and was scratched. McLouth said he’s dealt with patellar tendinitis for some time and isn’t sure exactly what made the problem flare up pregame.
“It flared up pretty bad - to the point that I knew I couldn’t play an effective outfield and it wouldn’t have been good for anybody,” McLouth said. “Just decided to not play today and that was definitely the best thing. But it’s something I’ve dealt with for a long time and can always manage. Today, it just flared up unfortunately right before a game.”