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Brawl involving Bryce Harper interrupts Washington Nationals' win over San Francisco Giants

By Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
Brawl involving Bryce Harper interrupts Washington Nationals' win over San Francisco Giants
Washington Nationals OF Bryce Harper led his team to victory Monday against the San Francisco Giants. File photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Washington Nationals would love to replay the first round of the 2014 National League Division Series, which they lost 3-1 to the San Francisco Giants.

Instead, they were reminded Monday of the two home runs Bryce Harper hit off Giants reliever Hunter Strickland in the losing cause, and even that was a painful experience.

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Right-hander Tanner Roark pitched seven shutout innings, and the Nationals defeated the Giants 3-0 in a game interrupted by a benches-clearing brawl that resulted in Harper's ejection.

"It's not even relevant anymore," Harper said of his Game 1 and 4 home runs off Strickland in 2014. "They won the World Series that year. He's got a ring on his finger. He shouldn't be worried about what happened in the first round."

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The fight broke out with two outs in the top of the eighth inning when Strickland's 95 mph fastball plunked Harper on the right hip.

Harper charged the mound, and both players connected with punches to the head before reinforcements arrived and separated the pair.

To a man, the Nationals considered the hit batsman an obvious payback in the combatants' first head-to-head matchup since 2014.

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"Two to nothing, eighth inning, two outs and nobody on ... that's prime time to hit somebody, and he did," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I thought it was intentional."

Baker even defended Harper's response.

"What's a man supposed to do? He's not a punching bag," the manager said. "Baseball is a game where you can hold a grudge for a long time."

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Both Strickland and Harper were ejected. Strickland had to be dragged off the field by four teammates.

"I can see how that stands in people's minds," Strickland said of the 2014 homers. "But I left the ball over the plate a couple times (in the playoffs), and he's taken advantage of that. So I'd rather miss in than over the plate."

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Baker said he would be disappointed if Harper were suspended.

"If anybody gets suspended," he said, "the pitcher should get suspended. Our guy just responded to getting hit.

"We don't start anything, but we don't take anything."

Ryan Zimmerman had a home run among three hits, and Daniel Murphy drove in a pair of runs with a double and a single, helping the Nationals open a nine-game western swing with their sixth victory in eight games.

The Nationals responded to the brawl by tacking on a third run to their 2-0 lead, scoring when Murphy singled in pinch runner Brian Goodwin with two outs.

"That's what you do -- you win the game first," Baker said. "That's what we're here for."

Roark (5-2) ran his career record to 6-0 against the Giants by scattering six hits and one walk. He struck out six.

The Giants got only two runners as far as second base off Roark, one coming on Christian Arroyo's leadoff double in the second inning.

Zimmerman gave his pitcher an early lead with his 14th homer, a solo shot, in the second inning off Giants starter Matt Moore.

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Murphy's two-out double scored Zimmerman, who had singled, in the sixth to make it 2-0.

Seeking a third straight win, the Giants threatened against the Washington bullpen in the eighth.

After left-hander Oliver Perez walked Joe Panik, righty Shawn Kelley came on with two outs and allowed singles to Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford that loaded the bases.

However, Kelley got Justin Ruggiano to fly to left field, keeping the shutout intact.

Nationals closer Koda Glover worked a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two, for his sixth save.

Moore (2-6) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter.

"What gets lost in this is that Moore pitched a nice ballgame. Tough lineup. He gave us a chance," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his starter, who received zero runs of offensive support for the third time this season. "It's tough to lose when you get a quality start like we did."

Posey, Ruggiano and Brandon Belt had two hits apiece for the Giants, who stranded nine baserunners.

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Anthony Rendon had a pair of hits for the Nationals.

NOTES: Nationals RF Bryce Harper was ejected for the ninth time in his career. Giants RHP Hunter Strickland's ejection was his first. ... Nationals manager Dusty Baker returned to the team after missing the club's three-game home series against San Diego over the weekend while attending his son's high school graduation near Sacramento, Calif. ... The Nationals also got 2B Daniel Murphy back after he didn't make any starts in the Padres series because of an illness. ... Before the game, the Nationals reinstated INF Stephen Drew (strained right hamstring) from the disabled list and demoted LHP Matt Grace to Triple-A Syracuse. ... The Giants played without INF/OF Eduardo Nunez, who underwent tests Monday for a possible concussion sustained in a Sunday win over the Atlanta Braves.

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