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Harper homers twice as Strasburg, Nats blank Marlins

Apr 1, 2013 - 9:39 PM Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Bryce Harper homered twice and Stephen Strasburg tossed seven scoreless frames as the Washington Nationals began their NL East title defense with a 2-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

"They're learning as they go, but they're awful good. It's fun watching them," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson.

Harper became the first reigning NL rookie of the year to hit a home run on Opening Day of the following season since Ryan Howard did so for the Phillies in 2006.

He recorded the third multi-homer game in his brief career and second against the Marlins, after a similar effort last Aug. 29, and became the third defending ROY with two homers in the first game of a season -- joining Raul Mondesi (1995, Dodgers) and Carlton Fisk (1973, Boston).

"They really were loud and crazy," Harper said of the regular-season record crowd of 45,274 which received a well-deserved curtain call after his second homer. "Hopefully they're going to be like that all year."

Strasburg (1-0) ended up allowing three hits and fanned three, needing only 80 pitches to complete his outing.

Tyler Clippard tossed a scoreless eighth and Rafael Soriano followed suit in the ninth to record his first save for the Nats.

Ricky Nolasco (0-1) worked six innings in the loss, yielding only two runs and three hits while striking out five and issuing two walks for the Marlins, who are looking to recover from a last-place finish and 69-93 record in 2012.

Harper's two-out blast to right put the hosts on the board in the bottom of the first, and the super sophomore did it once more to lead off the home fourth.

"I didn't make the best pitches to him, and he didn't miss 'em. That's what hitters do," Nolasco admitted.

Meanwhile, Strasburg was brilliant. He allowed a leadoff hit to Juan Pierre in the first, then sent down 19 in a row until Giancarlo Stanton's one-out double in the seventh. Placido Polanco singled and then Rob Brantly lined into an atypical 7-2-3-4 double play -- which concluded when Stanton was tagged out at home -- to end his afternoon.

Strasburg, who had been the subject of much drama surrounding his late-season shut-down as the Nationals approached their first division title and postseason appearance since the franchise relocated from Montreal, will be facing no such restrictions this year.

"Things have changed around here quite a bit," said Nats third baseman Ryan Zimmerman on the difference between his first and eighth Opening Days.

Game Notes

Washington's victory was the first Opening Day shutout in America's capital since the Senators of the American League beat Oakland, 8-0, on Apr. 5, 1971 at RFK Stadium ... Strasburg is coming off a 2012 where he finished 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA in 28 starts, while Nolasco finished 12-13 with a 4.48 ERA in 31 starts ... The clubs split 18 meetings a season ago, with each team taking six of nine on their respective home turf ... Harper became the fourth current member of the Nationals to go deep on Opening Day, following Adam LaRoche (2006), Ryan Zimmerman (2008) and Chad Tracy (2009).