Instead, it was more of the same for the light-hitting Nationals, who managed only six hits in a 5-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
Harper went 0 for 3. The No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft is 2 for 9 since being recalled from the minors on Saturday.
Harper received enthusiastic applause from the crowd of 22,675 when he stepped to the plate for the first time in the second inning. The 19-year-old struck out on four pitches, missing badly on his three swings, but the crowd cheered again as he walked back to the dugout.
In this next at-bat, Harper grounded out on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth. He also grounded out in the seventh.
Harper did, however, play well in left field. After Jason Kubel led off the second with a double, Harper fielded a single and threw a no-hopper to the infield to keep Kubel at third. One inning later, Harper sprinted to the line to make a fine catch of an opposite-field liner hit by Gerardo Parra.
Even better, Harper threw a 300-foot, no-bounce dart from left field to the plate on a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning and barely missed getting the runner.
"I just thought I had a shot," Harper said. "Reared back and gave it my all. That's what I try to do, make plays like that."
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, a former outfielder, said, "It kind of surprised me. We knew he had a solid arm, but it was a pretty impressive throw."
The kid also impressed Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton, who also made his major league debut at 19.
"It's fun to watch," he said. "It's fun to see him finally get called up, with all the hype and going out and enjoying the game. He looks like he's having fun out there, and that's what it's all about."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.