In the midst of what's shaping up to be the worst season of his career, Dan Haren experienced a rare outing consisting of mostly positives the last time he took the mound.
The similarly underachieving Washington Nationals hope there's more where that came from.
Haren will be on the hill as visiting Washington looks to send the Milwaukee Brewers to a third straight defeat Saturday night.
Haren (5-11, 5.49 ERA), though, has been a major disappointment for a Washington team that sits below .500 in August despite high expectations after winning the NL East in 2012.
The right-hander had gone 2 1/2 months without a victory before allowing one run and three hits in seven innings of a 4-1 win over the Mets last Saturday. The Nationals (53-56) had lost his previous 11 starts, with Haren going 0-8 with a 6.18 ERA in that stretch."It's obviously been a long time to have that winning feeling after a game," Haren said. "It definitely feels good. I was finally able to maintain momentum, something I haven't done all year."
Haren hasn't faced Milwaukee since 2009 while with Arizona, but he's 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance versus the Brewers, who were held in check for the second straight game Friday.
After falling to the Cubs 6-1 on Wednesday, Milwaukee (46-63) had only five hits - one being Jonathan Lucroy 's homer - in a 4-1 loss to the Nationals. It went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position."We made some mistakes again today," manager Ron Roenicke said. "You get behind on these guys and if you go into the ninth inning and you have to score three runs to tie it, it makes it tough. We need to play better."
Washington had scored one run while dropping each of its last two games before Bryce Harper hit a solo homer and drove in two runs Friday. Harper is hitting .340 since the All-Star break."That's just Harp," manager Davey Johnson said. "I expect stuff like that out of Harp. He had a good game."
Jayson Werth went 3 for 4 and is hitting .421 with five homers over his last 12, but Adam LaRoche went hitless again and is now 1 for 26 over his last seven. He'll look to bust out of his slump against Brewers starter Donovan Hand , who is coming off his longest outing as a major leaguer.
Hand (0-2, 3.56) has a 3.65 ERA in five starts this season, also making 12 relief appearances. He will be making his third straight start after giving up three runs in six innings of a 6-5 loss at Colorado on Sunday, marking the longest outing for the rookie since pitching as a starter in Double-A in 2009.
"I got to go six (innings), so hopefully we can build on that next time," Hand said.
The right-hander made his third start against Washington on July 4, giving up three runs in five innings of an 8-5 loss. LaRoche and Werth each had RBI singles while Ian Desmond went 3 for 3 off Hand.
Washington has won four of the last five meetings at Miller Park after losing the previous eight.
|July 24, 2013||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Blister|
|July 24, 2013||Bryce Harper||Day-to-Day||Left knee soreness|
|July 04, 2013||Ross Detwiler||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|June 23, 2013||Dan Haren||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 23, 2013||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Left game - left groin strain|
|June 23, 2013||Dan Haren||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 02, 2013||Tom Gorzelanny||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
|July 31, 2013||Yovani Gallardo||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
|July 30, 2013||Yovani Gallardo||Day-to-Day||Left hamstring tightness|
|July 27, 2013||Jean Segura||Day-to-Day||Right forearm tightness|
|July 23, 2013||Donovan Hand||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right hand|
|July 21, 2013||Carlos Gomez||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Adam LaRoche was struggling so much at the plate, he decided to try something different. So he grabbed teammate Jayson Werth 's bat.
The move paid off as LaRoche hit his 15th home run of the season in the sixth inning to help lead the Nationals to a 3-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers .
Prior to the home run, Washington's first baseman had just one hit in his previous 28 at bats. LaRoche said Ian Desmond suggested he try Werth's bat as Werth was hitting .337 in his last 51 games.
"My bat has not been feeling very good lately so why not give someone else's a try," LaRoche said. "I got a pitch I could hit and I was able to drive it."
Desmond, who batted after LaRoche, also used Werth's bat, but he flied out to leftfield.
"Maybe we should just leave Jason's bat up there for everyone to use," LaRoche said.
The other key to the game for the Nationals was the continued strong pitching of Dan Haren . He went seven strong innings, giving up just four hits, with six strikeouts and two walks.
Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth inning to earn his 28th save in 32 chances.
The only inning that Haren struggled was the first as he gave up a leadoff double to Rickie Weeks . Weeks moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Haren struck out Jean Segura , but walked Jonathan Lucroy . He got Carlos Gomez to pop out to short to end the inning.
It was the second straight strong outing for Haren (6-11) as he allowed one run and three hits in seven innings of a 4-1 win over the New York Mets on July 27. Prior to that, Haren had not won a game in more than two months as the Nationals had lost his previous 11 starts. Haren went 0-8 with a 6.18 ERA in that stretch.
Haren was on the disabled list in early July with a sore right shoulder and said the rest did him good.
"Going on the disabled list gave me a chance to regroup," he said. "I wanted to leave the first part of the season behind and help the team try and get back into the race."
Nationals manager Davey Johnson said Haren has a lot of pride and wanted to help the team win.
"He threw a bunch of pitches early, but really settled down," Johnson said. "He's been throwing very well for us."
Johnson said Werth left the game in the sixth inning after injuring his groin. Werth is not expected to play Sunday, but Johnson said he hopes to play him on Monday against Atlanta.
Donovan Hand (0-3), making his sixth start of the season, gave up three runs on five hits for the Brewers.
Milwaukee lost its third straight game and has only scored one run in the first two games of the series.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said it was another game of wasted opportunities.
"When we get these opportunities, we need to figure out a way to get those guys in," he said. "We didn't have a lot today but when we do have the opportunity (in the first inning) - and at that point a ground ball to the infield scores the guy -we have to find a way to put it in play. "
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Werth singled to start the inning and scored on Anthony Rendon 's sacrifice fly as he slid around the tag from Lucroy.
Wilson Ramos ' seventh home run of the season in the fifth inning boosted Washington's lead to 2-0. LaRoche's home run in the sixth inning closed out the scoring.
Notes: Roenicke said LHP Tom Gorzelanny is expected to miss at least one start after being struck on his pitching elbow by a line drive Friday night. ... The attendance for the first two games of the series was 70,514, meaning the team handed out $705,100 in vouchers for food and merchandise. The team is handing out $10 vouchers to every fan that attends a home game in August as a result of slugger Ryan Braun 's suspension for the rest or the season. ... Brewers RHP Kyle Lohse (7-7) will pitch the series' finale Sunday against the Nationals' RHP Taylor Jordan (1-3).