Patience pays off as Harper breaks out of funk

Patience pays off as Harper breaks out of funk

Patience pays off as Harper breaks out of funk
WASHINGTON -- Just like the Nationals' five-game losing streak last week, Bryce Harper's struggles at the plate are suddenly a thing of the past.

After seeing his batting average dip as low as .248 during the Nats' skid in losses at the Phillies and Marlins, Harper is on a five-game hitting streak and his average was back up to .256 entering Sunday. The young outfielder is 9-for-22 (.409) in that span, with three home runs and eight RBIs.

Washington is 3-2 in that stretch, and with a chance to win its series against St. Louis on Sunday, the respective swoons have largely faded into the background. The reasons for that aren't any sweeping adjustment or alteration, but rather a simple case of staying the course.

"I haven't really changed anything," Harper said. "I'm just trying to stay within myself, and my swing's been the same all year. I think it's just a matter of trying to not do too much and be as patient as I can and wait for my pitch to drive."

Manager Davey Johnson echoed that sentiment earlier in the week, saying much of Harper's improvement is credited to a more patient attitude. After Harper knocked his third home run in two days on Thursday, Johnson said Harper has "gotten a little calmer with his lower half."

Those changes have carried forward, as Harper has enjoyed multi-hit efforts in each of his last four games. But while Harper's numbers have soared since the Nationals returned home, he hasn't been alone. Against the Cardinals, whose rotation boasts the fourth-best ERA in the NL at 3.73, Washington has outscored St. Louis, 27-11.

"These past two days, we've done a pretty dang good job of getting out of that and scoring some runs," Harper said. "Our pitching's been great, and hopefully we keep it going."