BRYCE HARPER

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Monday's loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks was not only an unfortunate way for the Nats to kick off a homestand, it pushed them to second place in the NL East for the first time since June 19.

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They were wholeheartedly anointed the team to beat in what looked like a weak NL East, and for most of the summer to date, the Nationals were living up to the billing.

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BY PETER HAILEY

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There were any number of moments Friday night at Citi Field that could have stood on their own merits as epic examples of what pennant race baseball is all about.

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: You want pennant race baseball? Here you go, folks.

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