WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper looked simply bewildered during his first three at-bats against the Phillies, all ending in swinging strikeouts. He came through big in his fourth plate appearance.Harper hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Washington Nationals to a 3-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.Harper whiffed repeatedly against Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff. He then provided the games only scoring against Patrick Schuster, who threw a wild pitch, issued a walk and gave up the homer without recording an out after replacing fellow reliever Luis Garcia (1-1).I was thinking to myself, `well, you struck out three times. Hit a homer and everybody will forget about that, Harper said. Look what happened.Nationals ace Max Scherzer gave up four hits in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, and struck out eight to increase his NL lead to 251.Shawn Kelley (2-2) recorded the final out of the eighth and Mark Melancon pitched ninth for his 40th save as Washington won for the fifth time in six games.Ben Reveres single with one out in the eighth started the winning rally against Garcia, who was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley before the game. Daniel Murphy walked before Harpers heroics.The 2015 NL Most Valuable Player starred at the drive down the right field line before punctuating the drama with a bat flip.That was a dramatic home run, National manager Dusty Baker said. It just shows how strong he is mentally after you strike out three times and hit a home run. He had a rough night going up to then.Facing a 3-1 count against Schuster, Harper had one objective in mind.I was kind of shocked he threw it over the middle of the plate, Harper said of Schusters curveball. I was swinging no matter what anyway, to tell you the truth. If it had been in their dugout I probably would have swung at it.Eickhoff essentially matched Scherzer, keeping Washington off the scoreboard over six innings. He gave up five hits and struck out five.Tied for the NL lead with 16 wins, Scherzer won each of his previous four starts with 32 strikeouts and a 2.45 ERA in that stretch. He entered Saturdays matchup 3-0 against Philadelphia this season.The Cy Young contender wasnt special throughout -- he hit two batters -- and labored at times with long innings. He also got clutch outs when needed.With two runners on and one out in the first, Scherzer induced back-to-back infield pop-ups. He struck out Tommy Joseph to end the third with two runners in scoring position.I didnt think (Scherzer) was at his best tonight, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. He had a ton of pitches. He looked like he was struggling with command and we just couldnt take advantage of it.Philadelphias defense kept the game scoreless in the fourth. Jose Lobatons single with runners at first and second sent Clint Robinson around third. Center fielder Odubel Herreras throw bounced to home, where catcher Cameron Rupp shielded the plate and tagged out Robinson.TRAINERS ROOMPhillies: 3B Maikel Franco pinch-hit in the seventh inning after sitting out the previous two games with a sore right thumb.Nationals: RHP Joe Ross, on the disabled list since July 3 with right shoulder inflammation, threw 60 pitches during a simulation at Nationals Park Saturday. (Joe) had good velocity. ... Changeup looked like hed never been out, manager Dusty Baker said.STRASBURG SPEAKSNationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg made his first comments since leaving Wednesdays start with a strained flexor mass in his right elbow. Strasburg passed on projecting a timeline for his return before or during the postseason.I cant make that claim, he said. Theres still pretty much a month left in the season. Im just trying to get back healthy. Hopefully were still playing baseball.BLANK CHECKSaturday marked the third time the Phillies were shut out by the Nationals this season and the 10th time they were held scoreless overall.UP NEXTPhillies LHP Adam Morgan (2-9, 5.90) faces LHP Gio Gonzalez (10-9, 4.40), who allowed six runs and eight hits in three innings in his last start on Monday against the Braves. NFL Jerseys Cheap China . -- Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings was selected Monday to his second straight Pro Bowl, while guard Kyle Long made it after a solid rookie season. Wholesale NBA Jerseys China . Coach Tom Thibodeau says the former MVP will probably start travelling with the team in the next few weeks. Rose tore the meniscus in his right knee at Portland in November and was ruled out for the remainder of the season by the Bulls. http://www.wholesalejerseysnfl.com/ . The players spoke Jan. 13 during a Major League Baseball Players Association conference call after Rodriguez sued the union and Major League Baseball to overturn an arbitrators decision suspending him for the 2014 season and post-season. Wholesale Nike NFL Jerseys . -- Sergey Tolchinksy scored his second goal of the game 3:56 into overtime as the Sault Ste. Wholesale Cheap Jerseys . At a news conference Tuesday where it was thought that the fiery Schallibaum may be shown the door after a dismal finish to the Major League Soccer season, team president Joey Saputo said no decision has been made on whether the Swiss Volcano will be back in 2014. CHASKA, Minn. -- At first, I was going to write a column proposing 10 questions entering this weeks Ryder Cup.Then I thought about maybe turning it into 10 predictions instead.Like a golf fan with dual citizenship, I didnt know which way to lean.So I opted for both. Here are 10 questions AND predictions going into this weeks matches.1. Question: Lets start with an easy one: Who are the most important players for each team? Theres a reason why the U.S. team has adopted the slogan 12 Strong and not 1 Stronger than the Other 11. Everybodys points count the same this week. That said, there are a few guys who could spark some momentum a little bit more than their fellow teammates.Prediction: Hes no longer the best player on the U.S. team, and he might not play more than three matches, but if Phil Mickelson gets it going, his counterparts will feed off that. For the Europeans, its all about Rory McIlroy. Hes their compass; as Rory goes, so goes the team. Unless he completely stinks up the joint, expect five matches this week.2. Question: Related follow-up -- Who will be the best players for each team? Maybe these first two questions are the same thing, maybe there are some nuanced differences between them. Its my column; Ill opt for the latter.Prediction: Lets not overthink this on the U.S. side. Dustin Johnson has been the worlds best player this year and he was 3-0-0 the last time this event was held stateside. Easy call. And Id love to go contrarian for the Europeans, but McIlroy is fresh off a win, hes happy and -- uh-oh -- happy learned how to putt.3. Question: Which relative unknown will emerge as a breakout American star this week? Oh, I love the idea of breaking up the U.S. and Europe into two separate questions, so we could stretch this thing out to a total of 10. Thats some crafty column configuring right there.Prediction: There really arent any unknowns on the U.S. team. The two rookies -- Brooks Koepka and Ryan Moore -- have each played high-level golf on the PGA Tour for a while. That said, keep an eye on Moore, the last man in. Nothing tends to rattle him and hes been playing great golf lately.4. Question: Same question, for the Europeans. At least there are some options here. Darren Clarkes side comes in with six rookies, although thats never been the right term for them. Even though hes never played in a Ryder Cup before, its difficult to call Masters champion Danny Willett a rookie. These guys have all played big-event golf before, obviously.Prediction: Thomas Pieters seems like Nicolas Colsaerts 2.0 -- an improved version of the Belgian Bomber who posted nine birdies on Friday afternoon four years ago before running out of gas on the weekend. Expect him to win a few matches this week, possibly paired with a calming veteran influence. Honorable mention: Rafa Cabrera Bello.5. Question: Wait a minute -- why doesnt this thing start on Thursday instead of making us wait until Friday? Ive never understood this. As much as the Ryder Cup is about competition and country, its also all about the Benjamins. Starting on Thursday, even with just one session, would mean an extra day of television revenue, not to mention an extra day of stoking fan interest levels. As is, Thursday at the Ryder Cup is one of the most brutal days in golf. Lets get this thing moving already.Prediction: Itll happen. Someday.6. Question: Will the captains really make a difference this week? And if so, whos better? Ive finally seen the light. I used to compare Ryder Cup captains to first-base coaches: Basically, pat guys on the butt, point em in the right direction and hope you win. I changed my mind when Paul Azingerr imparted strategic maneuvers to win in 2008, and my opinion was only reinforced two years ago, when Paul McGinley came prepared for every potential scenario.dddddddddddd.Prediction: Much like the matches themselves, captains often seem even until they start playing, then some weaknesses emerge. Davis Love III and Darren Clarke appear equally up to the task, though if you want to give a slight advantage, it might go to Love for having the experience from four years ago.7. Question: OK then, smart guy. Will the vice captains really make a difference? Just because I need to hit my word count in this piece, here are all the vice captains for each side: Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Tom Lehman and, yes, Bubba Watson for the U.S.; Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter, Thomas Bjorn and Paul Lawrie for Europe.Prediction: Actually? Yeah, they will make a difference. Thats because each of these captains is using his assistants much like the president leans on his cabinet. Neither Love nor Clarke is ruling with an iron fist this week. In some ways, the American vice captains might even wield greater power, as Love seems inclined to listen to their decisions -- especially those of Tiger.8. Question: Which pre-tournament controversy will most affect the competition? Mickelson dredged up old memories by criticizing 2004 captain Hal Sutton for pairing him with Woods; he later apologized. Pete Willett, brother of Danny, wrote a column calling American fans a baying mob of imbeciles among other things; Danny later apologized on his behalf.Prediction: This is the kind of stuff that makes headlines when theres so much lead time before the event and no golf being played. Neither controversy should have much of an effect on the outcome, though dont be surprised if Willett -- apology or not -- hears more than his share of jeers from the home crowd, especially during afternoon matches when the gallery has, uh, partaken in the refreshments.9. Question: What will be the key stat this week? Conventional wisdom says putting wins these things. Conventional wisdom is also the kind of thing which we took for granted before analytics showed us what really mattered. Love and his vice captains have taken a deep dive into the numbers of the last few Ryder Cups and have spent the last few months crunching the numbers.Prediction: Sure, putting matters. Putting always matters. But keep a close eye on this one: Four years ago, the U.S. played the par-5 holes in a collective 52-28-94 and nearly -- maybe shouldve -- won. Two years ago, the team played these holes in 27-51-58 and got clobbered. On a long golf course (7,628 yards) with the traditional four par-5 layout, expect performance on these holes to be a great determining factor in the overall result.10. Question: Forget all that other stuff. Whos gonna win this thing? Youre excused if you skipped everything above and scrolled straight to here. This is what you want to know; this is what everyone wants to know. Can the U.S. team, after losing the past three Ryder Cups and six of the past seven, finally win again?Prediction: Playing on home soil, with a team ranked higher collectively and -- most importantly -- inspired by the spirit of Arnold Palmer, it feels like everything is set up for a U.S. victory. Ill put it this way: If they dont win this week, with all of those factors at play, it could be a long time before they do. But itll happen. After years of in-fighting, blame-deflecting and task-forcing, the U.S. will win this week ... finally. 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