The Washington Times - August 9, 2012, 04:46PM

HOUSTON — Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Wednesday night he planned to give Bryce Harper a day off and that’s just what he’s doing in the team’s finale of this four-game series in Houston.

Johnson was as critical of Harper as he’s been in the rookie’s young career after the Nationals’ 4-3 victory over the Astros Wednesday night, saying he felt Harper was pressing and that he took his emotions to the field with him, resulting in a wild throw with the game on the line. 


Harper also jawed with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, the most visibly he’s disagreed with a ball/strike call since he’s arrived in the major leagues.

Harper has started 87 games since his April 28 call-up to the big leagues and played in 89 of the team’s games since that point. He’s rarely rested, even when a sore back was hindering him early in June. While his numbers have suffered in the second half, Johnson has insisted he hasn’t seen the 19-year-old needing a physical break. But after Wednesday night’s game he conceded he may need a mental one.

Roger Bernadina got the start in center field in his place and Kurt Suzuki will catch back-to-back games for his first time in a Nationals’ uniform.

More from the clubhouse in a bit, but here are the full lineups as the Nationals look for the four-game sweep tonight:


Steve Lombardozzi 2B
Roger Bernadina CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Adam LaRoche 1B
Michael Morse LF
Jayson Werth RF
Danny Espinosa SS
Kurt Suzuki C
Jordan Zimmermann P 


Jose Altuve 2B
Marwin Gonzalez SS
Steve Pearce RF
Justin Maxwell CF
Brett Wallace 3B
J.D. Martinez LF
Scott Moore 1B
Chris Snyder C
Lucas Harrell P