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Harper saves the day for the Nationals

Star outfielder makes a key grab against the Giants, and also delivered at the plate in a 2-1 victory.

THIS TIME, Bryce Harper made the catch. And yeah, it was a relief.

Harper made a game-saving grab in rightfield and had a couple of big hits at the plate to help the visiting Washington Nationals beat the San Francisco Giants, 2-1, in 10 innings yesterday.

San Francisco had runners on first and second with one out in the eighth when Harper had to dive to grab Hunter Pence's sinking liner in the gap, keeping it tied at 1. He banged up his left knee on the play, but managed to stay in the game.

Harper also hit his 12th homer in the sixth and sparked the winning rally with a one-out double. Ryan Zimmerman was walked intentionally before Ian Desmond had an RBI single against Jeremy Affeldt (1-1), helping the Nationals avoid a three-game series sweep. They now head home and face the Phillies for a weekend series starting tomorrow.

Harper is still recovering from his dangerous collision with the outfield wall in Los Angeles a week ago. He thought he should have made the catch on Gregor Blanco's tying triple in the ninth inning of San Francisco's 4-2 win on Tuesday night. So the play against Pence was a big lift for the 20-year-old phenom.

"I'm just glad I caught it," he said. "It's still in my head and I have to try and get past it. It's just going to take time."

In other NL games * 

At New York, Brandon Phillips bounced a bizarre double over first base to snap a ninth-inning tie, and the Cincinnati Reds completed a three-game sweep of the struggling Mets with a 7-4 victory.

Joey Votto homered and Zack Cozart had a career-high four hits, all off Matt Harvey, in a game that featured a little bit of everything - including a testy exchange in the dugout between Cincinnati starter Mat Latos and teammate Jay Bruce.

* At Pittsburgh, Garrett Jones' RBI single in the first inning was enough for Francisco Liriano (3-0) and the Pirates in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

* At Milwaukee, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly criticized his team and benched All-Star rightfielder Andre Ethier, then watched Los Angeles beat the Brewers, 9-2.

Mattingly, in the third and final year of his contract, discussed his club's lack of mental toughness and said he wanted a balanced team that has grit and fight. He benched Ethier for the third time in six games and said he was "putting out my lineup that I feel is going to be the most competitive and going to compete the hardest."

Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke drove in two runs each and Ramon Hernandez hit his first home run with the Dodgers.

In Brewers news, righthander Kyle Lohse will miss his next scheduled turn in the rotation because of irritation in his throwing elbow. Mike Fiers (1-2) is slated to start in place of Lohse (1-5) on Saturday against visiting Pittsburgh.

* At Denver, Carlos Gonzalez homered and drove in two runs, Jorge De La Rosa (6-3) pitched effectively into the sixth and the Colorado Rockies beat Arizona, 4-1, to take two of three from the Diamondbacks.

In AL games * 

At Anaheim, C.J. Wilson (4-3) struck out 10 in eight innings, Josh Hamilton had a two-run single and the Los Angeles Angels beat Seattle, 7-1, to hand the Mariners their season-worst sixth straight loss.

* At Chicago, Clay Buchholz pitched five-hit ball over seven innings to improve to 7-0, and the Boston Red Sox beat the White Sox, 6-2, to avoid a three-game sweep.

* At Houston, J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer, Jordan Lyles (2-1) pitched six effective innings and the Astros beat the Kansas City Royals, 3-1, to win two of three in the series.

* At Baltimore, Chris Davis went 4-for-4, including his AL-leading 14th homer, and the Orioles got a three-run shot from Matt Wieters and a solo shot from Nick Markakis in a 6-3 victory over the New York Yankees.

* At Arlington, Texas, David Murphy and Adrian Beltre homered in a three-run first inning, and the Texas Rangers avoided a sweep with a 3-1 victory against the Oakland Athletics. Ross Wolf, 30, who got his first big-league win after 25 career relief appearances, was filling in for rookie Nick Tepesch, who was skipped because of a blister.

* At Toronto, Jose Bautista homered twice and drove in the winning run with a 10th-inning single, leading the Blue Jays to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. Bautista went 4-for-4 with a walk and four RBI.

In interleague play * 

At Atlanta, Evan Gattis kept up an amazing rookie season with his first grand slam, B.J. Upton and Ramiro Pena also homered, and the Braves finished off a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, 8-3.