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Philadelphia Phillies' Bryce Harper looks to the field from the dugout during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Slump takes some luster off Harper's D.C. return

- The Washington Times

Bryce Harper was back in Washington Wednesday, but the former Nationals star wasn't nearly the focus of attention he was earlier this season -- and with some reason: The slumping slugger seems to be on his way to becoming just another guy.

A tarp covers the infield during a rain delay before a baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Washington Nationals, Tuesday, June 18, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Phillies-Nationals rained out for second consecutive night

Associated Press

The Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies were rained out Tuesday after a nearly two-hour delay, the teams' second consecutive postponement. The game will be made up on Sept. 24 at 1:05 p.m. as part of a day-night doubleheader.

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez walks in the dugout before a baseball game against the New York Mets, Sunday, March 31, 2019, in Washington. The Nationals won 6-5.(AP Photo/Nick Wass) **FILE**

LOVERRO: Gritty Martinez explains how Nationals' turnaround starts now

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez spent Monday afternoon pushing a big truck tire around Nationals Park 100 times. A symbol, perhaps, of what his team faces this week in two home series against division rivals, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves? And, beyond that, for the rest of the 2019 season? Or just a 54-year-old tough guy trying to stay in shape?

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, left, greets Jackson Rutledge, a right-handed pitcher from San Jacinto Junior College in Pasadena, Texas, onstage after Rutledge was elected No. 17 by the Washington Nationals in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft, Monday, June 3, 2019, in Secaucus, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Nationals' top draft pick Rutledge signs

So much has changed since then for Jackson Rutledge, whose journey took him to the Nationals' first-base dugout on Monday just minutes after the team announced his signing.

The Washington Nationals' Matt Adams (right) celebrates his three-run home run with Juan Soto in the third inning of a 15-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. Adams had a career-high seven RBI after he added a grand slam in the eighth inning. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Nationals pound Diamondbacks with Harper, Phillies on deck

It was a novelty when Bryce Harper came to Nationals Park in early April for the first time as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. No novelties now. Just do-or-die for the Nationals, who were treading water this weekend even though they crushed Arizona 15-5 Sunday to salvage a four-game series split at Nationals Park.

Washington Nationals' Brian Dozier (9) celebrates in the dugout after scoring during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, June 10, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ** FILE **

Prolonged homestand gives surging Nationals chance to resurrect season

With a 12-5 run over their last 17 games entering Thursday, the Washington Nationals are at least in the playoff discussion as the calendar nears summer and the team begins its longest, most important homestand to date.