WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper doesn't always have to smash a baseball deep into the bleachers to help the Washington Nationals win a game.
Sometimes, a grounder and an opposite-field blooper are good enough.
Harper drove in two runs, Gio Gonzalez outpitched Aaron Harang and the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 Sunday for their eighth straight series win.
Harper gave Washington a 2-1 lead with a run-scoring groundout in the fifth inning. In the seventh, he fought off a tight pitch from Jake Diekman and dropped a clutch two-out single just inside the left-field line.
"Just trying to do what I could do to get one over to left or somewhere to get that runner in," Harper said.
In addition to moving into the NL lead with 41 RBIs, Harper increased his league-leading totals in walks (39) and runs (39). The 22-year-old also threw out a runner from right field on a force play at second base.
"The secret to success for him is two-out base hits with guys in scoring position," Washington manager Matt Williams said. "He'll hit ball over the fence, but those won't be the measure of his success. It'll be those little things that he does within the course of the game that will allow us to get an extra run or to cut down a run."
Diekman was summoned specifically by Phillies manager Ryan Sandberg to face Harper in the seventh inning. The strategy backfired.
"Diekman has been tough on Harper in the past," Sandberg said. "(Harper) is one of those hot hitters. Even a ball that gets in on him, a jam-shot, found a hole there. Looked like he made a decent pitch; he just fought it off and blooped it in."
Gonzalez (4-2) allowed one run and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings to win his third straight decision. It was his 46th victory with Washington, tied with Stephen Strasburg for second in Nationals history behind Jordan Zimmermann (60).
Drew Storen, the fifth Washington pitcher, worked the ninth for his 14th save.
Harang (4-4) gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings. It was the first time in three starts that the right-hander allowed an earned run.
Philadelphia finished with eight hits, two by Jeff Francoeur. The Phillies' starting lineup was without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who were a combined 3 for 31 against Gonzalez.
Philadelphia lost two of three to Washington and has not won a road series since last September (0-9-1).
Washington went up 2-1 in the fifth inning when Yunel Escobar hit a leadoff triple and scored on Harper's bouncer to shortstop. That was a good sign for the Nationals, who came in 17-0 when Escobar scores.
In the seventh, Odubel Herrera hit a one-out single and went halfway to second on Cameron Rupp's blooper to right. Harper got the ball on one hop and fired to shortstop Ian Desmond for an unusual 9-6 forceout.
"Trying to be the best right fielder I can," Harper said. "If I'm not hitting, I don't want them to get a hit either."
The Nationals scored two runs in their half. After Harper's RBI single, Ryan Zimmerman delivered a run-scoring double.
In the fourth, Philadelphia used a two-out single by Francoeur to go up 1-0.
Harang's streak of 17 straight innings without allowing an earned run ended in the bottom half. Clint Robinson led off with a double and scored on a single by Jose Lobaton.
But for the third time in four innings, Washington left two runners on base.
Phillies: When Harang pitches, the bullpen rests. He's gone at least six innings in all 10 starts.
Nationals: Washington recalled RHP Taylor Jordan from Triple-A Syracuse and optioned RHP A.J. Cole to the same club. Cole struck out seven in 4 1-3 innings of relief Saturday.
Nationals: Williams said Strasburg will make his next start despite another poor outing on Saturday. ... OF Jayson Werth (bruised left wrist) will join the club in Chicago on Tuesday and the team will "see how it goes from there," the manager said.
Phillies: RHP Severino Gonzalez (2-1, 7.11 ERA) makes his fourth major league start Monday in the opener of a three-game series against the host New York Mets.
Nationals: Illinois native Tanner Roark gets his first start of the season Monday on the road against the Chicago Cubs.
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