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Harper hits 2 HRs, drives in 5, as Nats slam Braves 14-4

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AP Photo/John Bazemore

ATLANTA (AP) — Bryce Harper assumes everybody already knows the Washington Nationals will again be a team to watch in the National League.

Just in case, Harper and the Nationals made the point by putting on an offensive show at the Atlanta Braves’ new park.

Harper had two homers, including a grand slam, among four hits and the Nationals overwhelmed Julio Teheran and the Braves 14-4 on Wednesday night. Harper drove in five runs. Ryan Zimmerman also hit a grand slam and the Nationals had 20 hits.

“I think everybody knows how good we are and what we can do,” Harper said, adding the expected return of shortstop Trea Turner from the disabled list “is huge as well.”

Harper’s homers came in the first two innings as the Nationals led 6-2 early and kept adding runs.

His third-inning grand slam just cleared the reach of leaping Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte. Harper’s seven career homers off Teheran are his most against any pitcher.

“It was just a bad day,” Teheran said. “I didn’t have it at all. Obviously, it was one guy that hurt me the most. He’s hit me really good and he’s one of the best hitters. But it’s a long season. We’ll meet again.”

Zimmerman’s eighth-inning grand slam off Ian Krol had some Braves fans heading for the exits at new SunTrust Park.

Even the potential bad news for Washington appeared to be only a scare.

Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth left the game during a third-inning at-bat with a groin spasm. He suffered the injury on a check swing. His status is day to day, according to manager Dusty Baker.

Washington’s Joe Ross (1-0) allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings in his 2017 debut.

Teheran (1-1) allowed seven runs on seven hits in four innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: LHP Sammy Solis was placed on the 10-day disabled list with left elbow inflammation, opening a roster spot for Ross. … SS Trea Turner (right hamstring strain) is at extended spring training at West Palm Beach, Florida and could come off the 10-day DL “in a couple days,” according to Baker.

Braves: OF Matt Kemp (right hamstring tightness) may come off the 10-day DL on Thursday after having one hit in seven innings in an injury rehab game with Triple A Gwinnett. … Inciarte jammed his left wrist when he fell in the outfield during batting practice but remained in the lineup.

NEW CLOSERS

Baker said before the game he was removing Blake Treinen from the closer’s role. Right-handers Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover will share the job. Treinen, who has a 7.11 ERA with three saves in four chances, will shift to a setup role.

FREEMAN’S RECORD STREAK

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman walked in the first and hit his sixth homer in the third. That gave Freeman 12 consecutive plate appearances in which he reached safely, an Atlanta record. The streak ended with Freeman’s sixth-inning groundout to shortstop Wilmer Difo. Freeman had a run-scoring single in the eighth.

Jeff Burroughs reached safely in 11 straight plate appearances for Atlanta in April, 1978. The Braves did not immediately have records for that statistic from their time in Boston and Milwaukee.

2 SLAMS

The last time the Nationals hit two grand slams in one game was July 27, 2009 at Milwaukee, when Josh Willingham hit both.

DISPUTED CALL

Third base umpire C.B. Bucknor signaled an out on a fly ball that bounced in front of left fielder Emilio Bonifacio’s glove in the sixth. The call was changed to a hit after the umpires huddled.

On Tuesday night, Bucknor’s ruling as plate umpire that Atlanta’s Chase d’Arnaud foul-tipped a pitch extended the ninth inning, even though a replay showed d’Arnaud missed it by at least 6 inches. The Nationals were upset over the call, which didn’t affect the outcome of the game.

UP NEXT

Nationals: RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-0) will try to give Washington a sweep of the three-game series on Thursday night.

Braves: RHP R.A. Dickey (1-1) will face the Nationals for only the second time since his 2012 Cy Young season with the Mets. The Nationals beat Dickey and the Blue Jays 2-0 on June 2, 2015.

For more AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

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