Harper, Espinosa homers carry Nationals over Cardinals

AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bryce Harper hit a slump-busting home run, Danny Espinosa also went deep and the Washington Nationals got seven strong innings from right-hander Joe Ross in a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night.

Washington trailed 1-0 in the sixth inning before Harper ended a 4-for-33 skid with a no-doubt-about-it shot into the upper deck, far beyond the wall in right field. It was his 12th homer of the season, the first since May 13.

The light-hitting Espinosa snapped the tie in the seventh with a drive to right. Batting eighth, Espinosa came in with a .199 batting average and three home runs.

Both homers came off Mike Leake (3-4), who won his previous three starts while allowing only two runs over 21 innings.

Ross (4-4) gave up one run and six hits over seven innings. He had lost four straight decisions since beating the Cardinals in St. Louis on April 30.

Felipe Rivero worked the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon got three straight outs for his 13th save.

Aledmys Diaz homered for St. Louis, 0-4 against Washington this season.

The Cardinals were without their top run producer, Matt Carpenter, who was placed on the paternity list earlier Thursday. He leads St. Louis with nine homers and 32 RBIs.

Washington, in turn, began the game with torrid-hitting Daniel Murphy on the bench. He was given the day off by manager Dusty Baker, who said, "One of their big bats is out of the lineup, so they offset. It worked out perfectly."

The Nationals got runners on second and third with two outs in the second before Espinosa grounded out.

Diaz led off the fourth with his seventh home run, a drive to left into the St. Louis bullpen.

I GOT IT: One play before Espinosa's home run, Stephen Drew hit a popup that was converged upon by third baseman Greg Garcia and Diaz, the shortstop, both of whom had their gloves raised to make the catch. The players collided and the ball popped out of Garcia's glove — right into the mitt of catcher Yadier Molina, who was trailing the play.

TRAINER'S ROOM: Reliever Matt Belisle (right calf strain) will make a rehab appearance Saturday with Class A Potomac. The 35-year-old tossed a scoreless inning in both his previous outings with Potomac.

UP NEXT: RHP Max Scherzer (5-3, 3.80) is 1-2 lifetime against St. Louis, but he threw seven shutout innings against the Cardinals on May 1.

CARDINALS @ NATIONALS

Tonight, 7:05

TV: MASN

RADIO: 106.7 FM

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