WASHINGTON – The word is out on Washington Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, and the New York Yankees took advantage of his aggressive approach on Saturday.
Harper struck out five times in a 5-3 loss and completed an 0-for-7 day by grounding out in the bottom of the 14th, concluding the longest game by innings played by either team this season.
"I thought he was really amped up," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "I've never seen him swing at balls out of the zone. He was chasing balls. He got into that mode of trying to make something happen."
One day after turning 40, Andy Pettitte allowed two runs and five hits over seven innings in his Nationals Park debut. He particularly embarrassed Harper by getting him to strike out three times lunging at off-speed pitches in the lefty-vs.-lefty, old-vs.-young matchup.
Harper laid off the cutter his fourth time up against Pettitte and hit a fastball deep to left-center with a man on the seventh inning, but Curtis Granderson made a running two-out catch that temporarily preserved the Yankees' lead. Harper also was called out on strikes in the 10th against lefty Clay Rapada and went down swinging in the 13th against righty Freddy Garcia (1-2).
"When you see him swinging the way he was, for me, it was 'Why go anywhere else?' So I just stayed with those cutters," Pettitte said.
"The report ... was that he's an extremely aggressive hitter, and I'd say that was him to a bill today, that's for sure."
Harper declined to talk after the game.
Teammate Ian Desmond said he thinks it will be a temporary downturn for Harper, who also struck out in his last at-bat on Friday night.
"I would rather strike out five times in the big leagues as a 19-year-old than not be in the big leagues at all," said Desmond, who hit a tying solo homer against Cory Wade in the eighth. "I'm sure he'll come in tomorrow and shake it off and be back to the same energetic kid we've all seen.
The Nationals left 11 runners on base and were just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
"The other guy is in a jam. We don't have to help him out," Johnson said.
Mark Teixeira hit a two-run double in the 14th inning to help New York win its eighth straight game.
Teixeira's drive to the right-field corner off Brad Lidge (0-1) brought home Jayson Nix and Derek Jeter.
Garcia pitched two innings for the win and Rafael Soriano earned his 12th save, but only after allowing consecutive one-out singles to Jesus Flores and Steve Lombardozzi. The game ended when Soriano got Harper to ground to second.
After Desmond hit the tying homer, the Nationals had a chance to take the lead later in the inning when pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche singled to right with Tyler Moore on second.
Dewayne Wise, who had just moved to right field from left field in a double switch for LaRoche's at-bat, charged the ball and threw out Moore on a close play at the plate. Replays appeared to show that Moore's hand slapped the plate just ahead of catcher Russell Martin's tag.
"I just tried to get a hand in there," Moore said. "I thought I got in there."
Nix opened the 14th with an infield hit so deep into the hole that Desmond didn't bother to make a throw from shortstop. Nix then stole second and advanced to third on Jeter's single to left.
After Granderson struck out, Teixeira got his only hit on a day that started - seemingly long ago - with strikeouts in the first, third and fifth innings.
The Nationals had held firm against most challengers in an upstart season that has them in first place in the NL East, but the Yankees have stymied the momentum. Washington had won six straight entering this three-game series.
Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann allowed three runs and five hits over six innings.
NOTES: Pettitte set a major league record by starting his 52nd interleague game, passing Livan Hernandez. He is 19-16 in AL vs. NL matchups. ... The Nationals walked a season-high nine batters. ... Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez did not start, but pinch hit in the 10th inning.