Dan Haren’s season sure didn’t start the way he wanted it to, but in his last couple of outings we’ve started to see more of the veteran pitcher the Washington Nationals thought they were getting when they inked him to a $13 million contract over the off-season. Thursday night in Atlanta, Haren authored his best performance of the young season, leading the Nats to a split of the four-game series, beating the Braves 3-1 before an announced 19,806 at Turner Field.
After splitting the series in Atlanta, the Nationals remain 2 1/2 games behind the Braves in the division.
Haren (W, 3-3, 5.01) went eight strong innings, allowing just one earned run on four hits and one walk, striking out four in the process. The Braves only run of the game was a solo home run by Dan Uggla in the seventh inning.
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth and gave up a single to Even Gattis, but otherwise held the Braves in check for his ninth save of the season.
The Nats (14-14) did their damage early to Braves (17-11) starter Kris Medlen (L, 1-4, 3.38). Washington got a run in the first when Denard Span doubled to lead off the game, took third on a wild pitch, and came in to score on Steve Lombardozzi’s grounder through the hole on the left side.
They picked up two more in the second. Adam LaRoche doubled off the wall in right to start the inning and went to third on Anthony Rendon’s single. Wilson Ramos hit into a fielder’s choice that got LaRoche hung up off third base. Haren bunted the runners up to second and third with two outs. Span slapped one the other way that third baseman Chris Johnson couldn’t handle, and both runners scored. It was originally ruled an error, but later changed to a two-RBI double for Span.
The rest was handled by Haren, who scattered two singles and a base on balls until Uggla got to him in the seventh. In the eighth, Haren got Andrelton Simmons to ground out and Reed Johnson singled to center. After getting Jordan Schafer to fly out, manager Davey Johnson went out to check on Haren. Haren emphatically responded to his manager, then struck out Johnson to punctuate his strong performance.
THE GOOD: Dan Haren. He continues a string of very strong starting appearances for the Nats. This is the guy they thought they were getting.
THE BAD: Bryce Harper. He won’t be in this column often, but the young slugger went 0-for-4 with a K and 3 LOB.
THE UGLY: Jayson Werth left in the fifth inning after trying to track down a ball in the corner and was replaced by Roger Bernadina. Werth has been dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries.
THE STATS: 8 hits, 5 BBs, 12 Ks. 3-for-11 with RISP, 10 LOB. No errors, no DPs.
NEXT GAME: Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at 7:05 pm from PNC Park. Ross Detwiler (1-2, 2.03) faces A.J. Burnett (2-2, 2.83).