Over the weekend, the Washington Nationals took two of three against the A.L.’s Minnesota Twins to pull their season record back to .500. But Tuesday, a return to N.L. play against the Colorado Rockies induced more headaches, as Dan Haren allowed the Rockies to bat around in the fifth en route to an 8-3 loss at Coors Field.
Haren (L, 4-8, 5.70) allowed five earned runs in that one inning. In his five innings, he gave up eight hits and a walk, including two home runs in that fateful fifth inning.
The Nats cut the score to two runs in the eighth, but Drew Storen’s tough 2013 continued, as the former closer gave up three runs to cement the loss.
After the teams traded zeros in the first inning, the Nats jumped out to a lead in the second. Ian Desmond drew his 12th walk of the season (in over 250 plate appearances) to lead off. Anthony Rendon followed with a single to center that advanced Desmond to second. Kurt Suzuki’s grounder to third forced Desmond for the first out of the inning. Haren completed a successful sacrifice with two strikes, and Denard Span laced a drive into right field to plate both runners.
Haren fell apart in the bottom of the fifth. He first allowed a walk — just his tenth of the season — to the leadoff batter, catcher Wilin Rosario. Tyler Colvin followed and crushed a center-cut fastball down the right field line and into the bleachers for Haren’s league-leading 16th home run allowed this season. With one out, Jordan Pacheco pinch-hit for Rockies starter Jhoulis Chacin, and singled to center. Dexter Fowler doubled to put runners art second and third.
Haren was able to strike out Nolan Arenado for the second out of the inning. but Carlos Gonzalez — on an MVP pace — crushed a cutter that didn’t cut to the opposite field, depositing the ball into the first row of the stands in left to put the Rockies up 5-2. For Gonzalez, it was his 18th home run and 51st RBI of the season.
Haren’s night was over after allowing the Rockies to bat around in the fifth. The veteran, signed to a one-year, $13 million contract last off-season, gave up five earned runs on eight hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out six and allowed the two home runs.
The Nats got one back in the top of the eighth, as Werth walked, went to second on Adam LaRoche’s ground out, and scored on Desmond’s RBI single.
But Drew Storen gave that back — and then some — in the bottom of the frame. Five straight hits to start the inning, including Colvin’s second two-run home run of the night, resulted in three more Rockies runs to make it 8-3. The three-run inning marked the end of an eight-appearance scoreless streak for Storen.
THE GOOD: Erik Davis and Fernando Abad each pitched a scoreless inning with a combined five strikeouts to keep the Nats in the game for a while.
THE BAD: Drew Storen. Three earned runs on four hits, a walk and a homer, the half inning after the Nats cut the lead to two. Not bueno.
THE UGLY: Dan Haren. Let’s face it, he isn’t getting the job done. With the way the Nats rotation lined up at the start of the season, all the Nats needed was .500 from Haren. With the offense’s struggles so far, letting down all the rotation, the Nats needed more out of Haren and he hasn’t been able to comply. His once-biting cutter now hangs in the middle of the plate at 84-85 and is getting eaten alive. Among the many things going wrong for the Nats, Haren has to be at the top of the list.
THE STATS: 8 hits, 4 BBs, 3 Ks. 2-for-8 with RISP, 8 LOB. No errors, 1 DP.
NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 8:40 pm ET against the Rockies. Ross Ohlendorf (4-5, 4.27 at AAA-Syracuse) makes his Nats debut against Jorge de la Rosa (7-3, 3.38).
NATS NOTES: After the game, the Nats announced they traded Henry Rodriguez, DFA’d last week, to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league RHP Ian Dickson. Dickson, 22, was 2-2. 6.88 at High-A Kane County this season. In 26 career minor league appearances, Dickson owns a 7.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.