Another first for Bryce Harper


Another first for Bryce Harper

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Bryce Harper had looked so bad all season against R.A. Dickey's dancing knuckleball that he didn't even expect to play Tuesday night.Nationals manager Davey Johnson had a different idea.Harper had his first four-hit game and pinch-hitter Tyler Moore launched a go-ahead homer off Dickey in the seventh inning to send Washington past the punchless New York Mets 5-3.After entering 0 for 10 with six strikeouts against Dickey, Harper doubled and singled twice off the All-Star pitcher. The talented rookie added an RBI single in the ninth off Josh Edgin to become the first teenager with four hits in a major league game since Andruw Jones did it for Atlanta on Sept. 22, 1996."Now he realizes he can hit a knuckleball," Johnson said.Leadoff batter Jayson Werth reached base all five times for the NL East leaders, who have won seven straight and 11 of 12 at Citi Field.Harper credited Werth's fine at-bats in front of him for helping him solve Dickey. Werth is 13 for 27 (.481) with two homers, three doubles and five walks against Dickey -- attributing his success to all the Wiffle Ball he played as a kid."Just trying to see something up or see a pitch I can square up," Harper said. "I've tried everything against that guy."Looking for a win over baseball's top team to boost his Cy Young Award resume, Dickey (18-5) mostly pitched out of trouble for seven solid innings. But he gave up a two-run shot to Moore that made it 3-2 in the seventh and was unable to tie Nationals lefty Gio Gonzalez for the major league lead in wins.Gonzalez beat the Mets 5-1 in the series opener Monday.Not surprisingly, Dickey got little help from his teammates at the plate. The fading Mets, losers of five in a row and seven of eight, set a club record by failing to score more than three runs for the 12th consecutive home game. The last time they managed four runs at Citi Field was Aug. 12 in a 6-5 win over Atlanta.New York has dropped 21 of its last 25 in Queens and is 0-5 on a six-game homestand against Atlanta and Washington. The Nationals improved to 13-4 against the Mets this season.Tom Gorzelanny (4-2) worked a hitless sixth in relief of a shaky Jordan Zimmermann, who labored through 104 pitches over five innings. Christian Garcia struck out three of his four batters and Tyler Clippard allowed a solo homer to pinch-hitter Scott Hairston in the ninth before securing his 31st save in 34 attempts.Kurt Suzuki also had an RBI single in the ninth for Washington (88-54)."That's the best lineup I've faced. They're just so functional," Dickey said.After going an absurd 110 straight innings at home without scoring more than one run, the Mets finally put up a crooked number in the fifth.Ruben Tejada singled for the third time and scored easily from first when Daniel Murphy's slicing double took an odd carom off the retaining wall in medium left field. Murphy clapped his hands at second base, Dickey cheered from the dugout and then David Wright grounded an RBI single under the glove of a diving Ian Desmond at shortstop.Suddenly given a 2-1 lead, Dickey soon gave it back. Suzuki singled with one out in the seventh and Moore drove the next pitch to left for his ninth home run in 138 at-bats this season."I had a mediocre knuckleball and had to pitch with it," Dickey said. "At this point in the season, you want to give the fans something. We've got a shot at doing something, maybe."Harper shortened his big swing against Dickey, hitting the ball on the ground all four times. After fouling off a bunt attempt, the 19-year-old slugger chopped a double inside third base to set up Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the first."I think I was fortunate to get a couple knocks tonight," Harper said. "You can't really get any advice on that guy. He's got a knuckleball. That's what he throws. You either hit it or you don't."Johnson smiled in the dugout after Harper's third hit. Before the game, he explained his decision to start the youngster."He's going to have to learn how to hit a knuckleball. It's too early to be dodging anybody," Johnson said. "Bryce has had a day off and he doesn't need one. He's stronger and younger than anybody out there. And that knuckleball might find his bat. It may take a wrong little knuckle and go right into his bat, and I know he's going to be swinging hard enough, it could cause some damage. So I'm willing to take that chance and have him in the lineup."Zimmerman became the first Nationals player with an RBI in eight consecutive games. He also singled in the eighth, extending his hitting streak to 15 games.In a tradition that began after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Mets wore caps commemorating the NYPD, FDNY and other first responders during batting practice and the national anthem.The Nationals wore their special blue game jerseys with stars and stripes, and both teams lined up along the baselines for a moment of silence before the first pitch.NOTES:Johnson plans to give LF Michael Morse (sore right hand) a couple of days off. ... LHP Sean Burnett (elbow) could be available Wednesday. ... Johnson said he met New York quarterbacks Eli Manning and Mark Sanchez at a charity function near the World Trade Center site Tuesday morning. "It's just a great cause," the manager said. "It was nice to be there." ... It was Moore's second pinch-hit home run. ... Nationals LHP John Lannan, from nearby Long Beach, will make his first start at Citi Field since April 2010 when he faces Mets rookie Matt Harvey in the series finale Wednesday night.

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Five reasons why it will take more than a bye week to fix the Ravens' woes

Five reasons why it will take more than a bye week to fix the Ravens' woes

Taking a four-game losing streak into their bye week, the Ravens (3-4) are reeling.

After starting the season with three consecutive wins, the Ravens have dropped four straight, including a woeful Week 7 loss to the Jets in which the team blew a 10-0 lead. 

The best news for the Ravens is that the AFC North remains a three-team race among the Steelers (4-3), Bengals (3-4), and Ravens.

However, here are five reasons why the Ravens will need more than a bye week to fix what’s wrong:


1. The offense has been inept all season.

In four of their seven games, the Ravens have scored just one touchdown. Firing offensive coordinator Marc Trestman two games ago didn’t fix it. New offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can tweak the offense during the bye, but he can’t change the players. The offensive issues with this team run far deeper than the coordinator.

“It’s never too late, but we have to put it together and put it together fast,” said tight end Dennis Pitta.

2. Lack of speed in the secondary is leading to big plays.

For two straight weeks, two fleet receivers, Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants and Quincy Enunwa of the Jets, have taking a short pass and turned it into a long touchdown. Ravens safety Lardarius Webb was blown by both times, and the hamstring injury suffered by Webb on Sunday could lead to his days as a starter being over. And remember, still have to face two of the NFL’s top receivers twice – Antonio Brown of the Steelers, and A. J. Green of the Bengals.

3. Killer instinct is something the Ravens have lacked.

 That admission was made by coach John Harbaugh after Sunday’s 24-16 loss to the Jets.

“Killer instinct is executing when you get ahead, putting people away and making plays, taking advantage of the fact that they’re down,” Harbaugh said. “Whatever killer instinct translates to, we certainly don’t have it right now.”

They led 10-0 against the Jets. They led 10-0 against the Giants in Week 6. They led 10-7 at halftime against the Redskins in Week 5, but Baltimore was shutout in the second half.  And the Ravens led the Raiders, 27-21, in the fourth quarter in Week 4, only to lose 28-27 after the touchdown catch by Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

Yet the Ravens (3-4) lost all four games. Even when they get leads, they don’t usually play well enough to keep them.

4. The schedule gets tougher.

The Ravens have two games against the arch rival Steelers, who lead the division. They have two games against the Bengals, who had beaten the Ravens five straight times. They have road games against the Patriots (6-1) and Cowboys (5-1). The Ravens also face the surprising Eagles (4-2), which is the Ravens’ final home game in Week 15.

Even if the Ravens play better after the bye, better competition could prevent them from having better results.

The Ravens are 26-29 since winning Super Bowl XLVII.

The Ravens believe in reloading, not rebuilding. But they only have nine games left to avoid missing the playoffs for the third time in four years.


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Morning tip: What could 9-10 man rotation for Wizards look like?

Morning tip: What could 9-10 man rotation for Wizards look like?

With the roster down to the league-mandated maximum of 15 for the Wizards, the next step by coach Scott Brooks is to pare down his rotation with the regular-season opener Thursday at the Atlanta Hawks. 

“I like a nine-guy rotation," Brooks said after the preseason finale.

"Occasionally, 10 guys. The 10th guy doesn’t play as many minutes.”


According to what Brooks has more or less hinted already, the starting five remains as expected: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat. But how he slots the rest of the players, taking into account matchups, health and foul trouble, will vary during an 82-game season. 

The most tenuous spot appears to be behind Wall. While Trey Burke received more preseason minutes than Tomas Satoransky, the 6-7 Euro eventually could jump ahead of him if he's not careful. Satoransky's shot needs work but his passing, off-the-ball movement and defense look superior.

Since recovering from a thumb injury, Marcus Thornton registered time behind Beal.

Kelly Oubre battled Porter for the starting job and is the logical backup at small forward. Andrew Nicholson has secured his spot behind Morris, but because of an injury to Ian Mahinmi (knee) he's also spending time behind Gortat. Jason Smith can play power forward and center, too. 

That's 11 players, 1-2 more than Brooks would like for his rotation. The educated guess here is it'll be Burke or Satoransky to fall by the wayside with Thornton being that 10th player who gets the spot minutes. There's no rule against playing three forwards, for instance, with a point guard and a center. 

When Mahinmi returns to top form, Smith's minutes would seem the logical ones to get cut unless he develops a three-point shot to increase his value as a spread option.