Harper tossed for arguing close play at first

Harper tossed for arguing close play at first

JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was ejected in the fourth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 loss to the Cardinals.

Harper led off the inning by hitting a slow roller to second baseman Mark Ellis, who threw Harper out on a close play. Harper had a few words for first-base umpire Jeff Gosney before heading back toward the dugout. He then turned back toward first base and started yelling at Gosney, who ejected Harper from the game.

"He said the magic word," manager Matt Williams said. "I don't know what he said. … I didn't see him make a gesture or anything, but he said the magic words."

Williams wished Harper didn't lose his temper. Harper could have had two more at-bats and helped the Nationals win the game.

"It's important for him to stay in the game for us, especially that early," Williams said. "It turned out he would have gotten a couple of more at-bats. It could have made the difference."

Williams was then seen arguing with third-base umpire C.B. Bucknor, who wanted Harper to leave the field immediately. Williams wanted Harper to leave the field in the middle of the inning.

"I was asking C.B. to wait. [The umpires] were waiting around [for Harper] to leave the dugout," Williams said. "I didn't want [Harper] to be embarrassed and walk in front of everybody."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.