The 2012 Washington Nationals knocked Chicago Cubs' starter Chris Rusin out in the second inning of a September 4th start in the nation's capital last season, scoring five runs on two home runs and eight hits total before the then-25-year-old lefty was lifted from the game. Ryan Zimmerman was 0 for 1 in his one at bat against Rusin that day, but 1 for 2 career vs Rusin after he doubled off the now-26-year-old starter to drive Ian Desmond in from first and make it 1-0 early in tonight's game in Wrigley Field.
The Cubs hit five home runs last night in their 11-1 win over the Nationals and Jordan Zimmermann. "[He] left the ball up and this is a ballpark [where] you leave the ball out over the plate, bad things happen," Davey Johnson told reporters after Zimmermann's rough outing in Chicago. Dan Haren, whose 22 HRs allowed are the most in the National League, was susceptible to the long ball throughout most of the first half of this season, giving up 19 HRs (2.09 HR/9) in his first 15 starts and 82 IP, but since returning from the disabled list, the 32-year-old right-hander had allowed just three home runs in 44 IP (0.61 HR/9) before tonight's outing.
Could Haren keep the ball in the park tonight?
Ian Desmond was caught flat-footed or on his heels on a one-hopper to short off Cubs' leadoff man Junior Lake's bat and Desmond botched the first ball hit his way in the first at bat of the home-half of the first inning. Dan Haren pitched around the error, however, to complete an 18-pitch opening frame with the Nationals' 1-0 lead in tact.
Tyler Moore got a start against a left-hander and lined to center for a leadoff single in his first at bat in the Nationals' second. Anthony Rendon went with a full-count slider and hit an opposite field double into the corner that sent Moore around to third, but three outs late they were stranded on their respective bases after a swinging bunt by Scott Hairston, a swinging K by Dan Haren and a grounder back to the mound by Bryce Harper. 1-0 Nats in the second. Donnie Murphy, who hit two home runs last night, doubled to left on the second pitch of the Cubs' second. Brian Bogusevic's groundout to first moved Murphy to third, but Haren threw a 2-2 splitter that dove under Wellington Castillo's bat for the second out of the frame and popped Starlin Castro up to right to end a 21-pitch inning with the Nationals still ahead of the Cubs, 1-0. 39 overall for Haren after two.
Ian Desmond hit a broken-bat single to left to start the third, but he was doubled up on a 5-3 DP when Ryan Zimmerman ripped a line drive right to Donnie Murphy, whose throw to first beat Desmond back to the bag. Jayson Werth's line drive to left ended a 10-pitch third by Chris Rusin. Junior Lake doubled on a sharp grounder by third with one down in the Cubs' half of the inning, but Darwin Barney flew out to Bryce Harper in center and Scott Hairston made a sliding catch down the left field line to rob Anthony Rizzo of an extra base hit and end a 17-pitch inning by Dan Haren that had the Nats' starter at 56 overall after three.
Chris Rusin tried to barehand a swinging bunt toward third by Wilson Ramos, but couldn't pick it up, so the Nationals' catcher reached on an infield single. Tyler Moore K'd swinging at an 0-2 curve that bounced in front of the plate. Anthony Rendon grounded into a force at second for out no.2 then got picked off and tagged at second to end the Nats' third. Still 1-0 Washington. Dan Haren retired the first two Cubs he faced in the bottom of the fourth, but Brian Bogusevic got hold of a 2-2 splitter and lifted it to right for a towering home run that tied things up at 1-1 in Chicago. 14-pitch inning, 70 overall for Haren after four.
Bryce Harper worked a two-out walk in the Nationals' fifth, but Ian Desmond grounded into a force at second to keep it tied at 1-1 after four and a half. Dan Haren threw an 0-2 cutter by Starlin Castro for a swinging strike three and the first out of the fifth. Chris Rusin K'd swinging through an 0-2 fastball. Junior Lake grounded to third for what should have been out no.3, but Ryan Zimmerman crow-hopped and misfired for an E:5 that put the Cubs' center field on with two out. Darwin Barney went down for a 1-2 cutter and lined it to right to send Lake around to third, but Anthony Rizzo K'd looking at a 2-2 two-seamer to end a 19-pitch fifth that had Haren up to 89 pitches.
After making his 18th error overall and his 13th throwing error this season, Ryan Zimmerman doubled to center and off the ivy for his 24th two-base hit of 2013 in the first at bat of the sixth. Jayson Werth hit a line drive single to right that moved Zimmerman over to third and one hard-hit lineout to second by Wilson Ramos later, Tyler Moore drove Zimmerman in with a one-out grounder to short. Werth reached second safely when Starlin Castro's throw bounced on Darwin Barney, but stumbled over the bag and was tagged for the second out of the frame. 2-1 Nationals though. Anthony Rendon's single in the next at bat ended Rusin's night. Blake Parker came on to face pinch hitter Adam LaRoche, and walked the Nats' first baseman to load'em up for Dan Haren, who grounded into an inning-ending force at second. 2-1 Nats.
Nate Schierholtz singled to right to start the Cubs' half of the sixth, but Dan Haren got three quick outs to strand him there at the end of a 14-pitch inning that had Haren up to 103 pitches total. Still 2-1 Nats.
Bryce Harper K'd looking at a full-count fastball from Blake Parker for the first out of the seventh. Ian Desmond went to a full count too, and walked in front of Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman entered the at bat 2 for 3 with two doubles, but flew out to center. Jayson Werth was swinging 3-0 and fouled off a fastball from Parker then flew out to right on a 3-1 pitch to end the top of the seventh...
• Dan Haren's Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 103 P, 71 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
Drew Storen took over on the mound for the Nats in the bottom of the seventh and retired the Cubs in order in a 13-pitch frame.
Pedro Strop gave up a leadoff double by Wilson Ramos in the top of the eight, but after Denard Span bunted the runner over/gave up an out, Anthony Rendon popped out to short. Adam LaRoche took a two-out walk from the Cubs' right-hander to get Chad Tracy an at bat, but the Nats' pinch hitter stranded both runners with a fly ball to left for out no.3. Still 2-1 Nationals. Tyler Clippard got a fly to right from Darwin Barney for out no.1 of the Cubs' eighth. Anthony Rizzo got the green light on a 3-0 pitch from the Nats' right-hander, but came up empty. Clippard threw the left-handed slugger a full-count fastball and got another fly to right for out no.2. Nate Schierholtz stepped in with no one on and two out, and flew to deep left-center where Denard Span made a catch at his hip while avoiding the ivy.
Bryce Harper doubled to right on an 0-2 fastball from James Russell to start the top of the ninth, then, after almost getting picked off, scored to make it 3-1 Nationals on an RBI single to right by Ian Desmond off new Cubs' pitcher Kevin Gregg. After Desmond was caught stealing, Gregg walked Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth in consecutive at bats before striking Wilson Ramos out for the second out of the inning, before Denard Span lined to center to bring Zimmerman in and make it 4-1. Michael Bowden came on to face Anthony Rendon and popped him up to end the Nats' ninth with Washington up by three.
"Pitch it, Soriano! Pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano!" Rafael Soriano came on in the bottom of the ninth, trying for the third time to earn save no.32 of 2013. Donnie Murphy got hold of 1-2 slider and sent it out to center to make it a 4-2 game with his third home run of the series. Brian Bogusevic K'd swinging at a full-count fastball for out no.1. ONE! Wellington Castillo K'd swinging at a 1-2 heater up high. TWO!! Starlin Castro lined out to right to end it. 4-2 Nationals final.
Work's done. Untuck that jersey, son!
Nationals now 61-64