NEW YORK (AP) — Didi Gregorius ended a long power outage with a pair of home runs, Washington slugger Bryce Harper left in the eighth inning after he was hit by a pitch for the second time, and the New York Yankees beat the Nationals 3-0 Tuesday night for their 10th win in 12 games.
Harper returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time in three years and fell to the ground in pain when hit on the right elbow by a 90 mph pitch from CC Sabathia (4-1) in the fifth inning. The 2015 NL MVP initially remained in the game but came out after he was hit on the left foot by Dellin Betances’ 89 mph slider leading off the eighth. Harper had been hit just once previously this season and had not been dinged twice in a game since Aug. 16, 2013, at Atlanta.
Harper, a free-agent-to-be, walked in his first two plate appearances. He is hitting .215 since May 1, dropping his average to .228.
Nationals All-Star second baseman Daniel Murphy made his season debut after recovering from right knee surgery on Oct. 20. He was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts as the designated hitter and did not hit the ball out of the infield.
Gregorius has had a “That’s Life” season, following the song’s lyrics of “You’re riding high in April, shot down in May.” He hit .327 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs through the season’s first full month, slumped to a .151 average with one homer and five RBIs in May and began the night with no homers and one RBI in June.
He drove a hanging curveball from Tanner Roark (3-7) into the Yankees bullpen in right-center during a two-run second that also included Austin Romine’s sacrifice fly. It was just the second home run for Gregorius since April 27.
He sent a fastball into the right-field second deck leading off the sixth for his fourth multihomer game, third this season. Gregorius has hit 11 of his 13 long balls in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium. New York leads the major leagues with 105.
Sabathia lowered his ERA to 3.27, allowing four hits over 5 2/3 innings in his first outing against Washington since 2009. He got a loud ovation in the fourth after striking out Michael A. Taylor for his 1,500th strikeout since joining with the Yankees for the 2009 season. The 37-year-old left-hander’s three strikeouts raised his career total to 2,893.
Chad Green got four outs and Betances three, and Aroldis Chapman finished the five-hitter with a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances.
New York and Washington finally got a game in as they started a two-game interleague series. The Yankees are at the Nationals next Monday to complete a May 15 matchup suspended with the score 3-3 in the sixth inning and to make up a rainout on May 16.
A big league-best 43-19, New York was coming off a 7-2 trip — all against teams with losing records.
Bob Boone, father of Yankees manager Aaron Boone, is a Nationals executive and rooted against his son.
“They pay him,” Aaron Boone said. “My boys are actually with my mom and dad in San Diego right now. They flew in today, so it’ll be a split household. I know my mom will be pulling for me. And my boys will be pulling for me, that’s for sure. So that’s fine. Somebody in the house can cheer for the other team.”
Taylor made a terrific catch on the warning track to snag Neil Walker’s drive with a runner on in the fourth, sliding into the wall with both legs. Taylor stole second two innings later, then was called out on a replay review.
Washington gave 19-year-old outfielder Juan Soto his first game off since his major league debut on May 20. He is hitting .328 with three homers and eight RBIs.
Yankees: RHP Luis Cessa will get a few more rehab starts. The 26-year-old right-hander, sidelined since mid-April by a left oblique strain, allowed two runs over 1 2/3 innings for Class A Tampa on Monday night.
RHP Sonny Gray (4-4, 4.81 ERA) starts Wednesday night for the Yankees after allowing two runs and three hits over seven innings to win at Toronto last week. RHP Erick Fedde could be brought up to start for Washington to take the slot that opened when RHP Stephen Strasburg went on the disabled list. Fedde lost against San Diego on May 23 in his only big league appearance this season. Nationals manager Dave Martinez also said he might use several relievers for a “bullpen day.”
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)