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Harper homers twice

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POSTED April 2, 2013 1:24 a.m.

WASHINGTON (AP) – All it took was two at-bats on his first opening day in the majors for Bryce Harper to hit two homers — and hear some “M-V-P!” chants.

The Washington Nationals’ other recent No. 1 overall draft pick, Stephen Strasburg, did his part, too, getting 19 consecutive outs at one stretch of his seven scoreless innings.

Yes, for the NL East champion Nationals the present and future could hardly have looked brighter in a 2-0 victory over the Miami Marlins on Monday.

“You couldn’t draw it up any better,” Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “And to have the two youngsters go out, do what they did? ... Let Harper and Stras go to work. They didn’t need us.”

Harper, the 20-year-old left fielder coming off NL Rookie of the Year honors, hit solo shots over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field off Ricky Nolasco in the first and fourth innings. He sprinted around the bases both times, and after his second trip, he climbed back out of the dugout for a curtain call,

He is the youngest major leaguer to homer twice in his team’s opening game of a season. The reigning NL Rookie of the Year, who is 20, drove a pitch from Miami Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco over the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center in the first inning. Harper’s second homer sailed a little to the right of that in the fourth inning.

Robin Yount was 19 when he homered for Milwaukee against Boston on April 8, 1975, according to STATS. Tony Conigliaro and Ken Griffey Jr. also were younger than Harper, who is 20 years, 167 days old.

TWINS ICED: Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers are restocked for a run at another World Series. Some cold air at the start of the season wasn’t about to deter them.

Verlander won on opening day for the first time in six tries, striking out seven over five shutout innings at frosty Target Field, sending the defending American League champions past the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Monday.

Doubles by Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau were the only signs of resistance by the Twins, who haven’t beaten Verlander (1-0) since April 27, 2010.

YANKS SPANKED: Jon Lester and the Boston Red Sox got off to a quick start after a dreadful 2012 season, giving new manager John Farrell an opening day win over the depleted New York Yankees.

Newcomer Shane Victorino led a revamped Red Sox lineup with three RBIs and rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times and scored twice in his big league debut.

INTERLEAGUE: Chris Iannetta hit a solo homer early in the game and a bases-loaded single in the 13th inning, powering the Los Angeles Angels past the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 in the majors’ first interleague season opener.

CHIPPER’S TOSS: Chipper Jones says it was “weird” to be at Turner Field for his first opening day as a retired player. Jones, wearing his old Braves jersey, threw out the first pitch before the Atlanta Braves’ opening game against the Philadelphia Phillies. He threw a strike to Brian McCann.

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