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Rockies end miserable June with 7-3 loss to Nationals in Harper's return

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WASHINGTON - A strong outing from rookie Yohan Flande wasn't enough to overcome the Colorado Rockies' June slump and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper's return to the lineup.

Adam LaRoche homered, Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and Ian Desmond added two doubles and three RBIs as the Nationals welcomed back Harper with a 7-3 win over the Rockies on Monday night.

The loss, coming in Flande's (0-1) second major league outing, left Colorado with an 8-20 mark for the month of June. The Rockies had nine hits, and a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but the bullpen faltered and the offence stranded six baserunners.

"It's frustrating for sure," DJ LeMahieu said. "And you just have to keep going. It just takes one game to turn it around, and hopefully that comes sooner rather than later."

Justin Morneau had three hits for the Rockies, who have lost 12 of their last 14.

Jordan Zimmermann (6-4) got the win for Washington, allowing seven hits, striking out five and walking one.

"We knew (Zimmermann) was going to be tough," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "He's a real good pitcher, and we saw him here last year, and he mowed us down last year when we faced him. I thought we approached him pretty well. I thought we put together some good at-bats against him."

Harper, who missed 57 games because of a torn ligament in his left thumb, went 1-for-3 with an RBI single — on Bryce Harper bobblehead night.

The Nationals trailed 2-1 before a five-run sixth. After both Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth reached base, Weiss pulled Flande in favour of Rob Scahill.

"I think Flande was throwing the ball really well, but the first two guys got on in the inning," Weiss said. "A guy making his second major league start, you want to be out in front of stuff before it happens to a kid like that. Wasn't real comfortable with the Zimmerman matchup and went and tried to play a matchup that didn't work out."

With runners on first and second and one out, Zimmerman doubled to left off Scahill, scoring Rendon. Harper was walked intentionally and Desmond followed with a bases-clearing double into the left-field corner. Desmond, 6-for-6 with the bases loaded this season, stole third and scored on Wilson Ramos' grounder to second.

Scahill took the blame, and said he wasn't able to execute his fastball against Zimmerman as planned.

"I tried to go in on Zimmerman, I missed two times in," Scahill said. "The third time in, it was a little bit more down than I wanted it to be and that's where he can get to that ball. And he got to it."

Flande (0-1), making his second start, was charged with three runs on six hits. Scahill ended his outing with four earned runs on three hits.

Harper, batting sixth and playing left field, was given a standing ovation when he batted in the second after LaRoche's one-out single, but grounded into a double play.

In the fourth, however, after Zimmerman doubled with two outs, Harper brought him home with a sharp grounder up the middle.

The Rockies took a 2-1 lead in the sixth. Drew Stubbs led off with a ground-rule double and Troy Tulowitzki drove him in with a double high off the wall in left. Tulowitzki went to third on a line-drive single by Morneau.

After Wilin Rosario popped out, Ryan Wheeler lined to short centre. Tulowitzki tagged and Denard Span's one-bouncer to the plate got there in time, but catcher Ramos couldn't field it cleanly as Tulowitzki scored.

Tulowitzki would score once more, on a wild pitch in the eighth.

NOTES: Colorado placed RHP Jhoulys Chacin (inflamed shoulder) on the 15-day DL. Manager Walt Weiss said Franklin Morales will make Chacin's scheduled Thursday start, giving the Rockies five left-handers in their starting rotation. The Rockies recalled RHP reliever Chad Bettis from Triple-A Colorado Springs. ... Rockies OF Corey Dickerson, who left Sunday's game with a hamstring cramp in the eighth inning, was not in the starting lineup, but entered as part of a double switch in the sixth. . Washington's Stephen Strasburg (6-6, 3.70) opposes Christian Friedrich (0-2, 8.10) on Tuesday.

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