The Washington Nationals scored one run or fewer 19 times coming into Saturday’s matinee against the Colorado Rockies. Make it an even 20 now, as three Rockies pitchers combined to limit the Nats to one run in a 7-1 blowout, snapping the Nats modest three-game winning streak and knocking the Nats back to .500 at 37-37.
The Nats fall to 5 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East pending the results of the Braves game Saturday night against Milwaukee.
Nats starter Dan Haren continued his forgettable 2013 campaign with another loss, allowing six runs in 3 1/3 innings. His record falls to 4-9 and his ERA balloons to an N.L.-worst 6.15.
Haren told reporters after the game, “No one wants to be boo’d. I’d probably boo myself, too. I’m not doing well.”
The Rockies didn’t waste any time pouncing on Haren’s especially juicy offerings Saturday. The second batter of the game, light-hitting D.J. LeMahieu, took him deep — his first home run of the season – off a 1-0 85-MPH cutter that didn’t cut. Carlos Gonzalez followed with an opposite field double to left field. Michael Cuddyer then drove home CarGo with a single to left, with Cuddyer taking second on the throw home.
Haren got catcher Wilin Rosario swinging for the second out, but couldn’t stem the bleeding. Corey Dickerson smacked an 84-MPH cutter into center field to plate Cuddyer and the Rockies had a three-run first inning off Haren.
Colorado got back at it in the fourth inning. Rosario led off the inning with a single to center. Dickerson followed with a double, but the slow-footed catcher had to stop at third. No matter, as Haren uncorked a wild pitch, which allowed Rosario to score and Dickerson to move up to third. Haren induced a ground ball out from Nolen Arenado, but then hit recently recalled infielder Josh Rutledge.
That prompted a visit from pitching coach Steve McCatty, but it only delayed further disappointment for Nats fans, as Haren gave up an run-scoring line drive single to opposing pitcher Jhoulis Chacin, which mercifully drove Haren from the game. Ross Ohlendorf relieved and struck out Dexter Folwer for the second out of the inning, but LeMahieu snuck a single up the middle to carry home the Rockies sixth run before getting out of the inning.
Haren’s numbers weren’t pretty in the least. The veteran righty gave up six earned runs on seven hits, including his league leading 19th home run allowed of the season, while striking out five in just 3 1/3 innings. His start was a stark contrast to the efforts the Nats have benefitted from the past three games from Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg.
Ohlendorf cruised until the top of the eighth, when Arenado ended a seven-pitch at bat with a solo home run, his sixth of the year, off an 93-MPH changeup to make it 7-0. Ohlendorf gave up just the one run on four hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out four. 52 of his 77 pitches were strikes.
Ryan Zimmerman broke up the shutout in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run into the Rockies bullpen, his ninth of the season and first at home this year.
THE GOOD: Ross Ohlendorf. Another impressive performance by the Princeton grad, who may have been auditioning for a spot in the starting rotation.
THE BAD: Steve Lombardozzi, Roger Bernadina and Jhonatan Solano combined to go 0-for-8 with one walk in the 6-7-8 spots in the Nats batting order.
THE UGLY: Dan Haren, as if we had another choice. It’s tough to keep piling on a veteran guy like this, but he’s just been terrible and was no better in this one. For the season, his ERA is 6.15, which is last in the National League among all qualified starters.
THE STATS: 6 hits, 1 BB, 4 Ks. 0-for-4 with RISP, 4 LOB. No errors, 1 DP.
NEXT GAME: Sunday at 1:35 pm against the Rockies. Ross Detwiler (2-5, 3.34) hosts Jorge de la Rosa (7-4, 3.21).