MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Harper comes through in clutch to down Phils

Right fielder drives in a pair and throws out runner at second

Harper comes through in clutch to down Phils

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper showed Sunday afternoon that he doesn't have to hit the long ball to look like "The Natural." Harper drove in two runs and made a great defensive play in right field in a 4-1 victory over the Phillies.

After the game, manager Matt Williams revealed the secret to Harper's success this season and it's more than just leading the National League in homers.

"The secret to success for Bryce or another player is two-out base hits with runners in scoring position, getting that guy in with less than two outs. That's what will make a fantastic season," Williams said. "He accomplished both of those today, playing great defense. He will hit balls over the fence, but that won't be the measure of his success. It's those little things that he does during a course of a game."

It was Harper who drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth inning against Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang. After Yunel Escobar tripled to lead off the inning, Harper grounded out to second baseman Cesar Hernandez, but Escobar scored on the play to give Washington a 2-1 lead.

Harper's RBI groundout

Harper added to the lead in the eighth inning, when he singled off left-hander Jake Diekman to send Denard Span home and make it a three-run game.

"[Diekman] throws hard. He has a pretty good slider," Harper said. "He is very tough for a lefty at-bat. I was trying to do things I could do to knock one over the third baseman's head or get something to pull. Getting that extra run is huge."

Of the at-bats that Harper had Sunday, manager Matt Williams was most impressed with Harper's final at-bat against Diekman.

"Diekman is really difficult against [lefty hitters] and Bryce just hung in there and got a single," Williams said. "It wasn't the prettiest one. Diekman has a great slider, he throws almost 100 [mph]. It's difficult to hang in there lefty-lefty, but Bryce did a nice job there."

Harper's strong throw

Harper also played solid defense. In the seventh, after Odubel Herrera singled, Cameron Rupp blooped what looked like a single to right field, but Harper grabbed the ball on one hop and threw out Herrera for the force at second.

"If I'm not hitting, I don't want them to get a hit either," Harper said. "It's the little things that I keep in my head that keeps me going out there, keep me in the game. I want to make some plays and help this team win."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.