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Old 09-27-2015, 05:10 PM   #1
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Nationals' Harper, Papelbon in dugout fight in loss to Phils

NL MVP front-runner Bryce Harper and Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon got into a dugout fight a day after Washington was eliminated from playoff contention, tangling in the eighth inning Sunday of a 12-5 loss to last-place Philadelphia.

In the ninth, Papelbon gave up Andres Blanco's go-ahead homer as the Phillies scored eight times.

Harper flied out in the eighth with the score 4-all. As he returned to the dugout, he exchanged words with Papelbon, who was acquired from Philadelphia in July to help with a possible postseason push.

Papelbon then reached for Harper's throat with his left hand and shoved the outfielder back toward the bench with both arms. Teammates pulled the pair apart.

Harper was replaced in right field for the ninth.

Papelbon (4-3) had entered the game in the top of the eighth and stayed in to pitch the top of the ninth, when he allowed Blanco's shot to left-center. The right-hander then loaded the bases, hitting Odubel Herrera with his final pitch before being removed by manager Matt Williams -- and leaving the mound to a chorus of boos from the Nationals Park crowd.

On Wednesday, Papelbon plunked Baltimore star Manny Machado and was given a three-game suspension by Major League Baseball. Papelbon appealed, allowing him to continue playing.

Dalier Hinojosa (2-0), who entered in the eighth, earned the win.

Ian Desmond, drafted by the then-Expos in 2004 and now expected to leave Washington via free agency, and Matt den Dekker homered on consecutive pitches off Aaron Harang in the second for a 2-0 lead.

Desmond, who had three hits, went out to field his position for the top of the ninth and was replaced by rookie Trea Turner, allowing fans to salute the veteran shortstop with a standing ovation.

Harper went 0 for 4 for the Nationals, who began the season as World Series favorites. They were eliminated from playoff contention Saturday when the New York Mets clinched the NL East title.

About 2 1/2 hours before the start of his team's first truly insignificant-in-the-standings game of 2015, Harper walked into the home clubhouse and began cleaning out his locker.

Harper threw away empty shoe boxes. The slugger rolled uniform pants and carefully folded T-shirts before placing them in a blue-and-red team duffel bag. He loaded other items into cardboard boxes.

Harper is the only Nationals player with any individual accolades to play for, entering Sunday leading the league in batting average (.339), homers (41), slugging percentage (.663) and on-base percentage (.470).


Phillies: 1B Ryan Howard (knee) is expected to be available next week. ... OF Domonic Brown (concussion) still has "hurdles to clear before he's free and clear," interim GM Scott Proefrock said. ... RHP Aaron Nola is being shut down. ... The team will decline its 2016 option on LHP Cliff Lee.

Nationals: OF Jayson Werth was given a day off.


Phillies: After a day off Monday, they open a three-game series at home against the Mets on Tuesday. Philadelphia hasn't announced its rotation for that series.

Nationals: Washington hosts Cincinnati on Monday in a makeup of a July 8 rainout. RHP Max Scherzer (12-12, 2.98 ERA) faces LHP Brandon Finnegan (4-1, 3.65).

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