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Washington Nationals drop 4-1 decision to Philadelphia Phillies in Bryce Harper’s return to the lineup...

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Bryce Harper went 0 for 2 with a walk in three plate appearances, and Gio Gonzalez struggled in a less-than-stellar outing against the Phillies, who evened things up in the series with a 4-1 win.

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Bryce Harper told reporters before tonight’s game that he wasn’t really concerned with results in his return to the lineup after missing 41 games on the Disabled List.

“I just want to play,” Harper said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.

“I don’t want to worry about what’s going to happen or this or that. 0-for-4, 4-for-4, just trying to see how it feels and go about it the right way. Just try to play my game.”

Harper went 0 for 2 with a walk on the night in Citizens Bank Park before Dusty Baker decided he’d had enough in his return from the significant bone bruise in his left knee and the left calf strain he suffered when he slipped on a wet first base bag back on August 12th in the nation’s capital.

Harper got through his return without incident, but wasn’t really tested.

Gio Gonzalez, who started the second of three with the Philadelphia Phillies in CBP, wasn’t particularly sharp, giving up five hits, five walks, and three earned runs, throwing 109 pitches over five innings on the mound in what ended up a 4-1 loss.

Howie Kendrick drove in the Nationals’ only run of the night with a solo shot in the top of the second, but that’s all the Nats managed offensively against Jake Thompson and the Phillies’ bullpen.

Nationals now 95-62

HERE’S HOW IT HAPPENED:

After Trea Turner singled to start the game, Bryce Harper took a four-pitch walk from Philly righty Jake Thompson in his first at bat in 41 games. #pluspatience.

The Nationals wasted a two-on, no-out opportunity in the first, however, with Anthony Rendon grounding into a 5-4-3 DP and Ryan Zimmerman striking out.

Howie Kendrick fell behind 0-2 in the first at bat of the Nats’ second, fouled off four pitches from Jake Thompson, took a ball, and crushed a hanging 1-2 slider, hitting a no-doubter of a solo shot to left-center to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead. Kendrick’s ninth.

Gio Gonzalez gave up a leadoff single and one and two-out walks in the Phillies’ half of the second, and went to a 3-1 count with Cesar Hernandez before getting a liner to left to end a 25-pitch second.

Back-to-back walks started the third for the Phillies and both runners came around to score with Freddy Galvis coming in on a one-out RBI single to left by Tommy Joseph and Aaron Altherr and Joseph scoring a two-run double to center by Cameron Rupp, whose fly ball got over Michael A. Taylor’s head after the outfielder misjudged it and couldn’t catch up, 3-1.

Gio Gonzalez gave up a leadoff walk in the fifth, putting Rhys Hoskins on, and was up over 100 pitches two outs later when the Phillies’ rookie stole second and took third on a throwing error by Nationals’ backstop Matt Wieters, but Gonzalez stranded him there and completed five innings on 109 pitches.

Edubray Ramos took over for the Phillies after Thompson hit Anthony Rendon to start the top of the sixth and struck out two of the three batters he faced to keep it a 3-1 game in home team’s favor.

• Jake Thompson’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 55 S, 4/0 GO/FO.

• Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 7 Ks, 109 P, 55 S, 2/2 GO/FO.

Joe Blanton worked a scoreless bottom of the sixth, and Philly lefty Adam Morgan set the Nationals down in order in the top of the seventh.

Enny Romero took over for the Nationals in the bottom of the seventh and walked Freddy Galvis, who moved up to second on a groundout to short by Aaron Altherr and took third on the throw to first, taking advantage of Ryan Zimmerman’s arm. Galvis scored on a sac fly to center by Rhys Hoskins to make it 4-1 Phillies.

Austin Adams impressed, sitting 95-96 with his fastball, mixing in a 90 mph slider and working around a two-out walk and a single in a 20-pitch eighth.

Hector Neris came on in the ninth and retired the Nationals in order. Ballgame. Final Score: 4-1 Phillies.

NATIONALS PREGAME NOTES:

  • Washington’s win last night left them 115-124 in the all-time series with the Philadelphia Phillies, but the Nationals have won 80 of 113 games since 2011.
  • Washington’s 50-29 record on the road this season is the NL’s best, and the third-best in the majors.
  • With last night’s loss, the Phillies have dropped 23 of their last 30 games against the Nationals.
  • Michael A. Taylor has driven in 12 runs in his last five games, including the two he drove in with his home run last night in Citizens Bank Park.
  • Washington has scored 793 runs on the season, 30 more than the previous high for a single season.
  • Washington’s offense started the night leading the NL in SLG (.449), runs scored (793), and OPS (.780), and the Nationals were ranked second in AVG (.265, and extra-base hits (538).
  • Anthony Rendon started the night leading the NL in fWAR (6.7), which was good for 4th overall in the majors.
  • In two starts against the Phillies this season, before tonight, Gio Gonzalez has allowed three earned runs in 14 innings (1.93 ERA).
  • The Phillies started the night 23-21 in 44 games in which the opposition started a left-handed pitcher.

Nationals now 95-62