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Harper pulled as Nationals lose to Cardinals

April 20, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington star Bryce Harper was taken out of the game by first-year manager Matt Williams for failing to run hard to first base on a routine out during a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Saturday.

Harper’s sanction compounded a bad day for the Nationals, who dropped 2-1/2 games behind National League East leader Atlanta, which beat the New York Mets in a tense finish.

Elsewhere, NL leader Milwaukee beat Pittsburgh thanks to a Ryan Braun homer with two outs in the ninth inning, and San Diego inflicted a third-straight loss on San Francisco.

Harper’s transgression happened in the sixth inning, when he hit a groundball back to St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn and, expecting to be routinely thrown out at first base, he jogged half-heartedly toward the base and before making it halfway he turned and went back to the dugout.

Harper late said “I respect what he did” when asked about the manager’s decision to pull him, and Williams said Harper would be in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game.

Lynn (4-0) won his fourth straight start as the Cardinals remained two games behind Milwaukee.

The Brewers improved to a majors-leading 13-5 record by edging Pittsburgh 8-7.

Ryan Braun hit his second homer of the game with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, with the two-run shot proving to be the game winner as the Pirates could not respond in the bottom of the inning.

Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the final 65 games last year in the Biogenesis drug scandal.

The go-ahead drive came off Pirates closer Jason Grilli (0-1), his second blown save in six opportunities. Jean Segura’s two-out single kept the inning going for Braun, who had three hits and three RBIs.

Atlanta pitcher Jordan Walden got the final out of the game with the bases loaded to give the Braves a 7-5 win at the Mets.

New York scored twice off closer Craig Kimbrel, who loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Lucas Duda. That’s when manager Fredi Gonzalez went to the mound and replaced Kimbrel, who looked unhappy with the decision.

Walden retired Travis d’Arnaud on a grounder to end it. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was positioned well and made a strong throw to get d’Arnaud at first.

San Diego’s pitching staff again thwarted San Francisco’s struggling batting lineup and delivered a 3-1 win to the Padres.

San Diego starter Eric Stults (1-2) kept the already struggling Giants off balance and largely off the base paths, allowing one run in six innings with no walks.

The Giants have scored only three runs in their past 28 innings. It was the first time in nine games they weren’t involved in a one-run decision.

Tampa Bay routed the New York Yankees 16-1, with Ryan Hanigan homering twice and finishing with six RBIs.

Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer (2-1) allowed one run in 6-2/3 inning. He’s won all four of his career starts against the Yankees, allowing four earned runs in 28 2-3 innings.

Wil Myers and Evan Longoria both drove in four runs for the Rays, who were so dominant that New York turned to infielder Dean Anna to pitch.

Texas pitcher Colby Lewis took his first win in nearly two years as the Rangers beat the Chicago White Sox 6-3.

Lewis (1-1) conceded only one run over 5 1-3 innings. He is on the comeback trail after rare hip surgery.

Prince Fielder hit his second homer for Texas and Shin-Soo Choo and Alex Rios each had three hits for the Rangers, who won their fifth consecutive game.

Colorado’s Jordan Lyles pitched effectively into the eighth inning to steer the Rockies to a 3-1 win over Philadelphia.

Lyles (3-0), acquired in the offseason from Houston, allowed one unearned run in seven innings in winning his third straight.

Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer to lead Colorado, which benefited from a reversed call to score its first run. After viewing the replay, umpires ruled Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz had blocked the plate in violation of a new rule designed to cut down on heavy collisions at home plate.

Toronto’s Mark Buehrle held Cleveland hitless over the first seven innings and remained unbeaten this season, leading the Blue Jays over the Indians 5-0.

Buehrle (4-0) lowered his ERA to 0.64 in four starts. He was pulled after giving up a single and a walk to start the eighth.

Jose Reyes hit an RBI single in his first game since opening day, when he strained a hamstring in his first at-bat of the season.

Kansas City notched its fifth-straight win by beating Minnesota 5-4, with Bruce Chen laboring through five innings to set up the victory.

Oakland inflicted a sixth-straight defeat on Houston, winning 4-3, with Josh Reddick hitting an RBI single that capped a three-run rally in the ninth inning.

Los Angeles rallied from an early four-run deficit to beat Arizona 8-6, with Andre Ethier hitting a three-run homer for the Dodgers.

Detroit finally ended a run of 10 successive defeats at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels by winning 5-2, thanks chiefly to Max Scherzer, who struck out nine batters in seven innings.

Boston’s Brock Holt hit a tiebreaking triple in the seventh inning and scored on Jonathan Herrera’s suicide squeeze, lifting the Red Sox to a 4-2 win over Baltimore.

Miami pitcher Henderson Alvarez pitched a shutout to lead the Marlins to a 7-0 win over Seattle.

The Chicago Cubs arrested a five-game skid with an 8-4 win over Cininnati, with Darwin Barney and Welington Castillo both hitting two-run homers.

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