St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Over Washington Nationals: Dan Haren's Best Start With Nats; Anthony Rendon's First MLB Hit Not Enough

USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' right-hander Dan Haren had what was probably his best start as a Nat, but it wasn't enough as Shelby Miller and the St. Louis Cardinals took the series opener in the nation's capital, 3-2. Anthony Rendon collected his first MLB hit, however, and played some stellar defense...

Dan Haren ran a two-strike fastball back inside to St. Louis Cardinals' leadoff man Matt Carpenter and got a called strike three from home plate umpire Jim Wolf with the 91 mph heater for the first out of tonight's game in the nation's capital. The Nats' right-hander signed to a 1-year/$13M dollar deal with Washington this winter, and Haren has struggled early this season, but he needed just 16 pitches to retire the Cards in order in to the top of the first tonight in Nationals Park and he ended up having what was probably his strongest outing with the Nats. 22-year-old Cards' '09 1st Round pick Shelby Miller needed 12 pitches to retire the Nats in order in the bottom of the frame, and Haren was quickly back on the mound.

Carlos Beltran, who was inserted in the St. Louis lineup late this afternoon, improved to 9 for 22 career vs Haren when he singled to center to start the Cardinals' second. Beltran was erased in the next at bat, however, when Yadier Molina hit a high liner to short that went in and out of Ian Desmond's glove. Desmond recovered the ball quickly and Molina wasn't running, so he and Beltran got doubled up on a 6-4-3 and a swinging K from David Freese in the AB that followed ended a 15-pitch frame for Haren. 31 overall after two. Shelby Miller threw a 93 mph full-count fastball by 22-year-old Anthony Rendon for the final out of a 1-2-3 second that had him at 23 pitches total after he'd retired the first six Nationals he faced.

"Dream Killer" Pete Kozma singled over second with one out in the Cards' third after he was lustily booed on his walk to the plate. A sac bunt and walk followed, putting two on with two out and Allen Craig up. A long fly ball to center got caught on the wind, but stayed in the park, and a leaping Denard Span couldn't make the catch at the wall. Off Span's glove and onto the track. Two runs score, 2-0 Cardinals after two and a half. The 20-pitch inning had Haren at 51 total after three. Kurt Suzuki walked with one down in the Nats' third, breaking Miller's streak of retired batters at seven, but his no hitter was in tact after Dan Haren struck out and Denard Span grounded weakly to second to strand Suzuki at third after he'd stolen a base on Yadier Molina and Shelby Miller and advanced on an error on the play. Still 0-0 in D.C.

Dan Haren left a full-count fastball up for David Freese, who lined to right for a two-out single, but Jon Jay's chopper back to the Nats' starter ended a 21-pitch inning that had Haren at 72 after four. Jayson Werth reached safely on a grounder to Pete Kozma deep in the hole at short, but Kozma's throw to first handcuffed Allen Craig for what was scored the first hit of the game off Shelby Miller. Bryce Harper almost connected for the second hit off Miller, but his fly to left was caught by a leaping Matt Holliday, who pulled it down at the wall. A 94 mph 2-2 fastball outside got Adam LaRoche looking for out no.2 and K no.6 for Miller, but Ian Desmond doubled to center on a 1-2 curve and Werth scored from first to cut the Cards' lead in half. 2-1 St. Louis. Anthony Rendon fouled off a 2-2 fastball inside and took one high and away to work the count full before he doubled to right-center for a game-tying RBI on his first MLB hit. #RENDONISREADY. 2-2 after four.

Pete Kozma walked to start the fifth after the Cards gave up the lead. A sac bunt by the pitcher moved Kozma into scoring position and a groundout to second by Matt Carpenter moved him to third, but he was stranded there when Dan Haren got Allen Craig swinging for out no.3 and K no.3 in 5.0 IP. The 15-pitch inning had Haren at 87 overall. Shelby Miller retired the Nationals in order in the home-half of the frame and the right-hander was at 75 pitches total after five innings of work. Still 2-2 in Nationals Park.

Haren hit Matt Holliday to put the leadoff runner on for the second straight inning in the sixth. A single to right by Carlos Beltran (10 for 24 vs Haren) put runners on first and second and an RBI single to right by Yadier Molina made it 3-2 Cards. David Freese took a full-count fastball for a base-loading walk on the 98th and final pitch of the night for Haren. Craig Stammen came on to face Jon Jay, who grounded to Adam LaRoche at first to start a slick 3-2-3 double play. Two down. Stammen walked Pete Kozma to get to the opposing pitcher, and Miller K'd swinging to end the threat. 3-2 St. Louis in the sixth. Adam LaRoche came a few feet from tying it, but Matt Holliday caught a fly to left at the wall in front of the visitor's bullpen for the final out of a 1-2-3 6th by Miller.

Craig Stammen surrendered back-to-back singles by Matt Carpenter and Allen Craig in the top of the seventh, but Matt Holliday grounded to third where Anthony Rendon started a perfect 5-4-3. A Carlos Beltran groundout to second followed and it was still 3-2 Cardinals after six and a half. Rendon worked the count full in his third at bat of the night with one down in the Nationals' seventh, but he grounded out to second this time up. Danny Espinosa singled in the next at bat and a walk to Kurt Suzuki ended Shelby Miller's night. Cards' reliever Joe Kelly came out of the pen and Chad Tracy came off the bench, but the Nats' pinch hitter's broken bat fly to center was caught by a sliding Jon Jay for the third out of the inning. Still 3-2 Cards.

Ryan Mattheus came out of the bullpen for the Nationals in the eighth and retired the Cardinals in order in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 inning. Cards' right-hander Trevor Rosenthal had the leadoff runner reach when Denard Span beat a throw by David Freese from third to first and collided with Allen Craig to knock the St. Louis first baseman off the bag. Jayson Werth battled Rosenthal in an eighth pitch at bat, but K'd swinging. Bryce Harper took a 3-0 pitch from the Cards' right-hander and went to a full count before walking to put two on for LaRoche. A weak groundout to first moved both runners up, and brought Ian Desmond to the plate. Desmond gave his bat a hard stare, stepped in and K'd looking at a 98 mph 1-2 fastball to end the frame. Still 3-2 Cards.

Drew Storen got Pete Kozma looking with a 1-2 slider for out no.1 of the Cards' ninth. Daniel Descalso popped to Rendon for out no.2 and Ian Desmond threw Matt Carpenter out from deep in the hole at short to end a seven-pitch, 1-2-3 inning by Storen. Edward Mujica came on for the save in the bottom of the ninth. Anthony Rendon took an 0-2 splitter for a called strike three. Danny Espinosa grounded weakly to second for out no.2 and Kurt Suzuki flew out to center to end it.

Cardinals win, 3-2 final.

Nationals now 10-9.

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