April 20, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 125 Review: Another strong outing by Haren leads Nats past Cubs

Dan Haren allowed on run over six innings to lead the Washington Nationals to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.

An unlikely hero in the month of August, Haren (W, 8-11) improved his record for the month to 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA in four starts. The turnaround has brought his season ERA down to 4.64 with an 8-11 record.

The Nats were on the board early against starter Chris Rusin (L, 2-3) after Bryce Harper led off the first with a single and came home on a double by Ryan Zimmerman. In the bottom of the inning, Junior Lake reached base on a fielding error by Ian Desmond, but Haren retired the next three batters to quickly end the inning.

Washington threatened in the second after Tyler Moore singled and Anthony Rendon doubled, but Scott Hairston, Haren and Harper went down in order to hold the Nats lead to just 1-0.

The Cubs finally responded in the fourth before Washington could tack on another run. On a 2-2 count with two outs, Brian Bogusevic homered to right center to tie the game.

But, in the sixth, the Nats would spare Haren’s opportunity for a “W.”

Zimmerman doubled and Jayson Werth singled before Wilson Ramos lined out, holding the runners at first and third. Moore came through with a single that plated Zimmerman but Werth found himself caught up at third for the second out.

Rendon singled in the next at-bat to keep the momentum going for pinch-hitter Adam LaRoche, who drew a walk to load the bases.

That, of course, brought up Haren who could do no more than ground into a force out to end the inning. More importantly, however, the at-bat opened up the opportunity for Haren to secure a win.

From the offensive standpoint, the Nats did little o provide insurance for Haren. But, in terms of pitching, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard each provided a solid inning of relief.

In the top of the ninth, the Nats provided what became necessary run support. With James Russell on the mound, Harper led off with a double, before the Cubs quickly called upon Kevin Gregg to shut down the Nats.

It didn’t work.

Desmond singled in Harper before Zimmerman and Werth drew back-to-back walks. Ramos went down on strikes but Denard Span singled home Zimmerman to give the Nats a 4-1 lead before the inning came to a close.

In the bottom of the inning, however, the Cubs earned one back – quickly – against none other than closer Rafael Soriano.

On Soriano’s fourth pitch thrown, Donnie Murphy launched one into left center to bring the Cubs within two runs before Bogusevic, Welington Castillo and Starlin Castro went down in order to end the game.


THE GOOD:
It still seems that Dan Haren’s DL stint has produced some wondrous results. Haren has shaved quite a bit off his once-disastrous seasonlong ERA and he’s riding a 3-0 record this month – not to mention he secured his first career save on Saturday.

Also worthy of celebration is the fact that the Nationals – at last – tallied a whopping 14 hits in Tuesday’s game. In fact, with the exception of Scott Hairston and Dan Haren, everyone in the starting order recorded at least one hit, while Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Wilson Ramos, Tyler Moore and Anthony Rendon each recorded two.

THE BAD: Rafael Soriano. Yes, he secured the save, but it seems like he can’t record three outs before allowing at least one run to score anymore, even against a lowly team like the Cubs.

THE STATS: 4 R, 14 H, 2 E, 4-for-14 with RISP, 12 LOB

NEXT GAME: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. at Wrigley Field – RHP Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.85) vs. RHP Jake Arrieta (1-0, 0.69)

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