Dan Haren took the mound in the bottom of the first today in Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City with a four-game win streak on the line. Haren was (4-0) in his last five starts (and one relief appearance) going back to his last loss on July 22nd against Pittsburgh. Over his last six outings, the 32-year-old, 11-year veteran had a 1.32 ERA with five walks (1.32 BB/9) and two home runs (0.53 HR/9) allowed in 34 IP over which he'd struck out 30 (7.94 K/9) and held opposing hitters to a .167/.206/.258 line.
Haren's third pitch of the game this afternoon was launched to right by Royals' left fielder Alex Gordon, who hit a 1-1 fastball into the Pepsi Porch for a solo blast and a 1-0 lead early in the series finale with the visiting Washington Nationals. Emilio Bonifacio walked in the next at bat, and he was running when Eric Hosmer grounded sharply to short. The ball bounced off Nats' shortstop Ian Desmond and rolled out into center, so Bonifacio kept going and scored the Royals' second run. 2-0 Kansas City. Two outs later, Haren gave up a single to right by Mike Moustakas and a two-out, two-run home run to left by Salvador Perez that made it 4-0 Royals after one inning in Missouri. 29-pitch first inning for the Nats' right-hander.
Royals' right-hander Ervin Santana retired the first five batters he faced before Adam LaRoche lined a two-out single to center in the top of the second, but Wilson Ramos went down swinging at the third straight slider Santana threw him to make it 6 of 7 set down by Santana on 22 pitches. 4-0 KC. Alcides Escobar singled to start the second and Royals' outfielder Jarrod Dyson reached on a bunt single to put two on with no one out. Alex Gordon lined out to first in the next at bat, starting a 6-3 DP. Dyson stole his 24th base in 28 attempts with two down, but was stranded at second when Emilio Bonifacio grounded out to end a 14-pitch inning by Dan Haren. 43 pitches overall for Haren. 4-0 Royals after two.
Anthony Rendon hit his 20th double of the year to left field and off the top of the outfield wall on a 1-0 fastball from Ervin Santana with one down in the third. Denard Span hit a first-pitch fastball right back to the mound and off Santana's hip for the second straight one-out hit. Ryan Zimmerman stepped in with runners on first and third, but went down swinging at an 0-2 slider for out no.2 and Bryce Harper popped out to center to end the Royals' starter's third scoreless inning of work. Dan Haren needed 11 pitches to retire the Nationals in order in the bottom of the third, leaving him at 54 overall after three innings in Kansas City.
Ian Desmond hit his 19th home run of 2013 approximately 431ft to left field and off the Royal-blue cityscape painted on the outside wall of the Hall of Fame building in Kauffman Stadium. 4-1 Royals after Desmond's one-out blast. Adam LaRoche lined to left for a single in the next at bat, but he was doubled up on an inning-ending 5-4-3 that Wilson Ramos started with a sharp grounder to Mike Moustakas at third. Dan Haren needed 13 pitches to set his sixth, seventh and eighth straight batters down after Jarrod Dyson's second inning bunt single. 67 pitches for Haren in four innings pitched. 4-1 Royals.
• Watch Desmond's Blast:
Ervin Santana got Tyler Moore to chase a 1-2 slider out of the zone for out no.1 of the fifth and the Nationals' fifth strikeout in 4 1/3 IP by the Royals' starter. After Anthony Rendon flew out to center for out no.2, Denard Span lined his second in three at bats to center for a two-out single. Santana fell behind Ryan Zimmerman 3-0 in the next AB, but Zimmerman took a hack at a 3-0 pitch up in the zone and grounded to second to end the Nats' fifth.
Jarrod Dyson reached first safely a low liner to second that Anthony Rendon knocked down but couldn't field. Emilio Bonifacio singled through second one out later with Dyson running, allowing the speedy Royals' outfielder to take third, but Eric Hosmer grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 to end the home-half of the fifth. 11-pitch inning, 78 overall for Haren. Still 4-1 Kansas City.
Bryce Harper went down for a few minutes after fouling a ball off his back foot, but he stayed in the game and singled to start the Nationals' sixth. Jayson Werth lined the second straight single through short to put two on with no one out, but Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos went down in order after that in a 21-pitch 6th by Royals' starter Ervin Santana. Dan Haren got back-to-back backwards Ks from Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas and a groundout to short by Salvador Perez in a quick, 11-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth that had him up to 89 pitches overall after six.
Denard Span jumped on a first-pitch change and sent a two-out solo home run to center to get the Nationals a run closer to the Royals at 4-2 in the top of the seventh. Ryan Zimmerman ripped a line drive to left in the next at bat, then trotted around from first when Bryce Harper crushed a first-pitch fastball from Ervin Santana and hit a game-tying, two-run home run out to left-center to knot things up at 4-4 and end Santana's day. Kelvin Herrera took over on the mound and fell behind Jayson Werth 3-0. Werth got the green light but missed the fastball he got, then fouled one off to go to a full count. Werth walked, but Ian Desmond flew to left to end the top of the seventh. 4-4 game in KC.
Dan Haren's 14-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh left him at 103 pitches overall on the day.
Kelvin Herrera gave up a two-out single to center by Tyler Moore in the Nationals' eighth, but completed a scoreless frame to keep things tied after seven and a half.
• Dan Haren's Line: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 2 HRs, 103 P, 65 S, 6/5 GO/FO.
Craig Stammen took the mound in the bottom of the eighth and retired the first two batters he faced (with some help from Anthony Rendon on an Emilio Bonifacio bunt), but walked Eric Hosmer to bring Billy Butler up with a runner on and two out in the Royals' eighth. Adam LaRoche had a sharp grounder from Butler bounce of his wrist, but he recovered only to find Stammen hadn't run over to cover first. Ruled a single. Mental error by the Nats. Stammen fell behind Mike Moustakas 3-0 and walked him to load the bases for Salvador Perez. Perez grounded to short, and Ian Desmond bobbled it before throwing to third. Ryan Zimmerman applied the tag, but a second too late. 5-4 Royals. David Lough's single to right drove in another, 6-4 but the Nats got out no.3 at home. 6-4 Kansas City after eight in Kauffman Stadium.
Greg Holland came on to close it out in the top of the ninth and gave up a leadoff single to center by Denard Span. Ryan Zimmerman K'd swinging in the next at bat for the first out of the ninth. Bryce Harper worked the count full but K'd swinging at a 99 mph heater. Jayson Werth poked a two-out single through short to keep hope alive. Nats' SS Ian Desmond stepped in next and... K'd swinging at a 1-2 slider in the dirt. Ballgame. 6-4 Royals.
Nationals now 65-65