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"It was nice to see him hit one to the opposite field," manager Dusty Baker said. "That means you're staying on the ball and that means you're letting your natural ability come through versus forcing it. Sometimes you force things and that makes it worse and then it compounds. Then it was nice to see him get a blooper because they had been catching all of his balls."
Harper has been showing signs of breaking out of his slump lately. He is batting .317 in his last 11 games. He has reached base in 18 consecutive games, although he has just five extra-base hits during that span.
"I've felt great for the past month," Harper said. "Wherever I hit the ball opposite side of the field or pull side, if I can put good swings on the ball, I'll be just fine."
Harper has especially performed well against the Padres in his career. He went 2-for-4 Thursday night and is a career .450 hitter (27-for-60) with six homers and 23 RBIs against San Diego.
"I had heard that this is where Bryce kind of took off last year, that's what the guys on the team were telling me," Baker said. "So maybe he needed some San Diego and some Cali air."
Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.