“You can’t catch what you can’t see, you know?” Harper said. “Nothing you can do about it. The sun monster got me.”
Afterward, the Nationals ran a promotion in which players and coaches gave their uniforms to fans who had won a raffle. “It was a good day to give the jersey away,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “I don’t wanna wear that one. That one was unlucky.”
The Nationals’ list of positives ended at Wang’s strong showing in his first start since June 19 and Ian Desmond’s 2-for-2, two-walk day, which raised his batting average to .301. The team committed two errors, yielded four walks and allowed 15 hits. Bad news came from out of town, too.
The Atlanta Braves’ victory in Philadelphia sliced the Nationals’ lead in the National League East to 41
2 games, the lowest it has been since Aug. 28. After the Cincinnati Reds lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night, the Nationals retained the best record in the majors by half a game.
The Nationals’ magic number stayed at six with 10 games remaining, which means they can still clinch during their series this week against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The Nationals entered the seventh inning Sunday tied at 2, Ryan Matthues taking over after scoreless relief innings from Craig Stammen and Zach Duke. After an infield single and a fielder’s choice, Aramis Ramirez roped a double to right field, putting two men in scoring position with one out. Mattheus intentionally walked Corey Hart to load the bases.
Jonathan Lucroy rolled a grounder up the middle, and Desmond made a slick diving play behind second base. He tried to flip the ball with his glove to Danny Espinosa, but the ball dribbled away and the Brewers had taken a 3-2 lead.
“I tried to do everything I could,” Desmond said. “Just couldn’t get him out.”
Mattheus seemed to extricate himself from the jam when Carlos Gomez skied a flyball to shallow right-center field. Werth sprinted over, settled under the ball . . . and then turned his back. He couldn’t see it. One run scored. Jean Segura grounded out to Desmond, but rather than providing the third out, it only scored another run, putting the Nationals down three.
“I mean, he’s pretty good out there,” Johnson said. “He knows how to use the glove, block off the sun until the last minute and then snatch it. But, tough day.”