Nationals win second in a row
The Washington Nationals went into Miller Park last night and won their second in a row over the Milwaukee Brewers behind solid pitching, with Dan Haren producing his second straight strong start to lead the Nats to a 3-0 win. The victory improves Washington’s record to 54-56 [23-31 on the road] and 4-2 in the season series against the Brewers. Milwaukee has been outscored 7-1 in the first two games of this series.
Haren pitched seven innings, struggling only in the first before settling down and mowing down Brewers batters. Haren gave up a leadoff double to Rickie Weeks in the bottom of the first inning and Weeks eventually moved to third before Haren was able to retire the side without yielding a run. After that, he consistently got the better of Milwaukee, striking out six, walking two and giving up only four hits over seven innings. Haren’s accuracy helped immensely, as he threw 19 first strike pitches to the 26 batters he faced.
This is the second straight strong start from Haren [6-11, 5.14 ERA], the first coming in a 4-1 win over the NY Mets on July 27. Prior to that win the Nats lost 11 straight Haren starts over more than two months, with the pitcher compiling a record of 0-8 with a 6.18 ERA during that stretch.
“Going on the disabled list gave me a chance to regroup,” said Haren. “I wanted to leave the first part of the season behind and help the team try and get back into the race.”
Tyler Clippard [185 ERA] pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out one, while closer Rafael Soriano [2.91 ERA] retired the side quickly in the ninth to preserve the win.
The Nationals got their scoring started in the second inning when RF Jayson Werth [.313] singled to right center and advanced when 1B Adam LaRoche [.231] grounded to second. SS Ian Desmond [.277] drew a walk and then the Nationals executed a double-steal, with Werth moving to third and Desmond to second. 2B Anthony Rendon [.256] flied out to right, allowing Werth to score on the sacrifice and Desmond to move to third. The Nats went up 1-0 with a man on third and C Wilson Ramos [.286] at the plate. However, Ramos flied out harmlessly to center to strand Desmond and end the inning.
Both sides did nothing offensively until the top of the fifth inning, when Ramos came up with one out and slapped a home run 387 feet over the wall in center-left field. The Nats couldn’t do anything else in the inning, but the homer put them up 2-0.
The next inning LaRoche would show some sign of life at the plate by knocking a two-out pitch 385 feet over the wall in center-left to increase Washington’s lead to 3-0. Perhaps the key was hitting with a teammate’s bat. With LaRoche mired in a slump, Desmond suggested he hit with Jayson Werth’s bat, since Werth is hitting .337 in the last 51 games.
My bat has not been feeling very good lately so why not give someone else’s a try,” LaRoche said. “I got a pitch I could hit and I was able to drive it.” The shot was LaRoche’s 15th home run of the season.
Desmond came up next and he also used Werth’s bat, but merely flied out to center field.
“Maybe we should just leave Jason’s bat up there for everyone to use,” LaRoche said.