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Second baseman Espinosa working all season to find his stroke, taking the Red Sox left-handed pitchers, and the wall in left field for all it was worth with a two-out double ever-so-slightly off that wall to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead in the seventh.

Zimmermann scattering seven hits, baffling the Red Sox with his curveball and his slider more so than his fastball, and surviving long enough in a weak seventh inning to limit the Red Sox to just the game-tying run.

And then there was Harper. The Nationals‘ 19-year-old burst of energy, speeding around the base paths to help them secure a win that would put them two games clear of second place in the NL East and 12 over .500 for the first time since July 23, 2005.

When the Nationals left Fenway Park in 2006, they were practically run out of the building, outscored 26-9 and dominated in every possible way.

“There’s a lot of places I felt embarrassed [back then],” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. “Not just here. That’s just the way it was. We’ve come a long way. It doesn’t really matter if it was here. We got a swept a lot of places. We weren’t very good then. We were rebuilding still. Now it’s a different story.”

As they packed their bags Sunday evening, that much was clear.

“I think we were the team to beat right here,” Espinosa said. “We’re the first-place team, and we had the opportunity to sweep. That’s what good teams do.”