Dan Haren allowed five runs and six hits in five innings pitched as the Washington Nationals fell 5-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium Friday afternoon.
This is Grapefruit League baseball, so it should matter little that the Nats have fallen to .500 with a 9-9 record. The Nats roster consisted largely of backup players, after all.
Nevertheless, the Nats’ projected starting rotation – for when the numbers do matter – currently boasts an ERA over 5.00 this spring.
The Cardinals wasted little time challenging those figures – Jon Jay rocketed a leadoff homer well beyond the right field fence to start the bottom of the first. Daniel Descalso and Matt Carpenter hit back-to-back singles before Haren forced Ty Wigginton to hit a popup for the first out.
Unfortunately, Matt Adams took it upon himself to clear the bases for Haren – with a three-run homer to right to put the Cardinals up 4-0.
Washington earned its first hit of the game in the third inning on a one-out single by Micah Owings, but the Nats never posed a threat to right-hander Adam Wainwright, who pitched out of the inning before the Nats could conjure up another base runner.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, had better luck. Haren handed Pete Kozma a free opportunity on a four-pitch walk and Kozma had the wherewithal to advance to third on an infield groundout by Rob Johnson. Kozma then scored on a sacrifice fly to Tyler Moore in right before Haren struck out Descalso to end the inning.
The Nats’ only run came in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Owings singled once again and Steven Souza came in to pinch-run. Zach Walters followed up with a single of his own to advance Souza to third and Steve Lombardozzi plated him on a force out to get Walters at second.
Yunesky Maya, Ryan Mattheus and Fernando Abad combined to pitch three innings of scoreless relief, but the Nats failed to round the bases a second time. In fact, only Chris Marrero and Corey Brown tallied hits in the final three innings of action as the Cardinals’ late-inning relievers held down the fort.
Winning pitcher – Adam Wainwright: 6.0 IP, 3H, 1ER, 1BB, 2K
Losing pitcher – Dan Haren: 5.0 IP, 6H, 5ER, 2BB, 3K, 2HR
Honorable mention – Micah Owings: Only National to tally two hits Friday – a single in the third and a single in the sixth.
Next game: Saturday vs. Houston Astros (at home), 6:05 p.m. ET