Harper leaves game; Madson "didn't mean to hit" Votto in win

The Nationals dropped the Reds 6-2 by scoring early and getting a solid performance from Jeremy Hellickson, who went 5 2/3 innings for his fifth win of the season.

Coupled with a 7-1 setback in game one, the Nats ended up splitting the day-night twinbill.

The concern after the game was the status of star outfielder Bryce Harper, who had to leave in the top of the seventh after getting hit by pitch from Austin Brice with two outs in the sixth. Harper said the pitcher apologized afterwards.

"He just said sorry," Harper said. "No hard feelings toward him at all. Just got away from him."

Harper-Cringes-Knee-Sidebar.jpgHarper got hit directly on his knee and stayed down in a crouched position. He was assisted by team trainer Paul Lessard and eventually limped to first base.

"It hurts," Harper said post game at his locker. "I'll see where I'm at tomorrow and go from there. Right in the knee. That whole area. I was just in pain. There was no point in being out there."

Nationals manager Davey Martinez elected to replace Harper after he saw the outfielder attempt to go after Mason Williams' double to lead off the seventh.

"Yeah, I watched him, he was shaking his head," Martinez said. "He really couldn't run. Saw him run a little bit and he wasn't moving very well."

Martinez was cautiously optimistic after assessing Harper and did not want to predict if he would play Sunday. Martinez believes Harper will need the night of rest to see how the knee reacts before he puts together his lineup for the 1:35 p.m. series finale.

"He's OK, a little sore, stiff," Martinez said. "He said he'll be alright. We'll see how he wakes up tomorrow."

Martinez also does not believe Harper will need any further medical tests.

"Hopefully not. It was a stinger. Like kind of went numb on him."

There was some drama later when Nationals reliever Ryan Madson hit Reds infielder Joey Votto on the leg with a pitch. Votto appeared to mouth the word "Really?!" at Madson and the Nats dugout as he headed to first base. When the eighth inning concluded, Votto appeared to wave off the Nats in their dugout. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher warned both dugouts.

Madson was unaware that Votto was chirping back at him, but instead was concentrating on the next hitter he had to face. Madson said he was not intentionally throwing at Votto.

"No. I didn't mean to hit him," Madson said. "Definitely didn't mean to hurt him. Nothing like that. Hopefully, he's OK. I don't know. I haven't heard. I'm sure he's fine. Went to first fine. Played the next inning. He's OK. So, that's good. I never want to hurt a guy. Never. So, glad he's OK."

Hellickson (5-2) allowed a solo homer to José Peraza to lead off the game, but then the Reds did not score again until the fourth. That was when Eugenio Suárez launched a homer to left field. That was all the Reds could get off of him in close to six innings of work.

"He started attacking the strike zone with his fastball a little bit more," Martinez said after Hellickson allowed a run in the first inning. "I think they started sitting on his offspeed stuff so (he) started using his fastball a little bit more. His location was really good. He was good."

The Nats offense was relentless against Reds veteran and former Mets starter Matt Harvey, peppering him with a run in four straight innings. Harvey started the fifth and allowed a solo shot to Matt Adams and that was it.

Juan Soto had two hits, including a double, and two runs scored. Adams also had a run-scoring double. Anthony Rendon had three hits, with two doubles and two RBIs. Wilmer Difo provided two hits and two RBIs from the ninth spot in the order.

The Nats scored all six runs in the first five innings, pounding out 10 hits.

"We are using the whole field, I mean really, and taking our walks," Martinez said of the offense. "I've said that over and over again. When we do that we are pretty good. A lot of balls, Difo staying up the middle of the field, Soto. Lots of hits going up the middle of the field. That was nice. Rendon left-center field. All that's nice."

Matt Grace, Madson and Kelvin Herrera rounded out the game for the Nats, not allowing the Reds another run. Martinez still believes the bullpen will be OK heading into Sunday.

"We'll see," Martinez said. "I mean I think we are in pretty good shape though, I really do. So, we'll see how they come out (Sunday). The bullpen did really well, starting with (Wander) Suero today (in game one). He saved us a lot there."

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