Harper ends home run drought at perfect time

Reigning NL MVP strikes out three times before clutch hit in 8th

Harper ends home run drought at perfect time

WASHINGTON -- Having already struck out three times Saturday night, Bryce Harper stood in right field and thought to himself, "Might as well hit a homer so everyone will forget."

He got his chance in the bottom of the eighth, when he launched a three-run homer to break a scoreless tie and catapult the Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Phillies. He stood and watched the ball sail 377 feet down the right-field line, flipped his bat toward the Nationals dugout, pumped his fist and let out a few screams before he began trotting down the first-base line as a raucous crowd of 36,152 fans at Nationals Park erupted.

"I got pretty good wood on it," Harper said. "It felt good, and I definitely knew it was out of the yard. There was a lot of emotion right there. I was pretty fired up to get that W."

Harper's three-run home run

The home run snapped a 10-game homer drought for Harper, who entered this game hitting .211/.279/.289 during that span. The beginning of Saturday night had not gone much better, having struck out three times, each time on a curveball by Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff.

In the eighth inning, Phillies left-hander Patrick Schuster fell behind in the count 3-1 before he left a curveball over the middle of the plate. Harper recalled being surprised he even got a pitch over the plate, joking he would have probably swung no matter what, even if the ball was in the opposing dugout.

"Boy, that was a dramatic home run," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "That shows how strong he is mentally, after you strike out three times and then you hit a home run. He had a rough night going up until then. That came right on time because we needed it."

Jamal Collier covers the Nationals for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.