Bill Ladson

Harper powers way to franchise record books

Slugger hits 38th, 39th homers, passes Dunn for most by Nationals/Expos left-handed hitter

Harper powers way to franchise record books

PHILADELPHIA -- Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper showed in Tuesday's 4-0 victory over the Phillies why he is the front-runner to win the National League MVP Award.

Vote Harper as Best Everyday Player in Esurance MLB Awards

Not only did he drive in all four runs, but he put himself in the Nationals' record book with his two home runs. He now has 39 home runs for the season, and he broke Adam Dunn's record for most home runs by a Nationals/Expos left-handed hitter. Dunn had 38 homers in 2009 and 2010.

Must C: Harper blasts two homers

Harper was humble when he talked about putting himself in the team's record books. He said he is happy to be in the lineup and to contribute to victories.

"I'm trying to win ballgames," he said. "As a team, I think … we have to keep going, try to roll and do the things we can to get back [in the National League East race]. We are going to try to win as much as we can."

The first home run came in the first inning off right-hander David Buchanan, a monster shot that landed about 15 feet above the 409-feet mark in center field. The record-setting home run came in the eighth inning off left-hander Adam Loewen.

Harper's solo shot

Before he came to the plate, Harper had a talk with manager Matt Williams on how to approach the at-bat. Harper swung at a fastball and hit an opposite-field home run to left to make it a four-run game.

Harper's second homer

After Harper went into the dugout, he grabbed Williams from behind and gave him a hug.

"Playing for a manager like that is a lot of fun because he knows so much about the game," Harper said about Williams. "He knows so much about the at-bats. It's fun to pick his brain. He played with some of the best guys in the game. Barry Bonds to name one of them. [Williams] knows a lot about hitting. It's a lot of fun."

Williams is a guy who has received a lot of criticism this season for the way the Nationals have played. They are 8 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East. Harper made it known that he wants Williams to return to the Nationals next season.

"I love him as a manager. I absolutely do," Harper said. "He is a guy I can talk to about at-bats, approach, at-bats to at-bats. He has the fire and intensity. … He wants us to be perfect. I love that. I played for a guy out of high school [who was the same way]. My dad is exactly like that. ... I love Matt. I want to see what he thinks about hitting, things like that is a lot of fun."

As for Williams, does he think Harper is the leading candidate to win the MVP Award?

"At this point, we have a bunch of games left," Williams said. "I don't think he is thinking about it. I would certainly not want him to start thinking about it. I would tell him to, 'Stay with your approach, keep doing what you are doing. At the end of the day, you might have a shot.'"

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