Manager Davey Johnson plans to leave Bryce Harper out of the Nationals' starting lineup Thursday for only the fifth time since Harper arrived in the majors in late April. For the first time, Harper will get a break not because of injury or illness, but because Johnson saw the need for Harper to catch his breath.

In the Nationals' 4-3 victory over the Astros on Wednesday, Harper extended his second-half skid by going 0 for 3 with two walks. He twice argued with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez after controversial calls. In the ninth inning, Harper made an ill-advised throw, trying in vain to throw out the tying run at third base while the winning run moved into scoring position. That convinced Johnson that Harper required a break.