Washington beat Milwaukee, 3-0. Dan Haren threw seven scoreless for the win. The Nationals took the first two games of three from the Brewers on the road in Miller Park. But when Jayson Werth was lifted from the game before the bottom of the sixth after grounding out to leave him 2 for 3 tonight and 5 for 7 in the series in Wisconsin, most people following the team this season probably feared the worst. After the Nats' win, Nationals' manager Davey Johnson told reporters that the 34-year-old outfielder had just tweaked his groin.
"The same area that he pulled before," Johnson said, referring to a groin issue from earlier this season, not the hamstring issues which landed Werth on the DL. "So I'm not going to take any chances," the Nats' skipper explained, "I took him out. And I'm going to probably give him tomorrow off, hopefully he's going to be good to go on Monday. But, that's the same groin. Evidently he went down for a ball in the corner or something and kind of messed it up a little bit."
Before he left the game, however, the hot-hitting Nationals' outfielder, who was 36 for 94 (.383/.460/.638) over the last 28 games before tonight, made an important contribution to the Nats' 3-0 win. Werth let Adam LaRoche use his bat and the struggling first baseman hit his first home run since July 22nd to put the Nationals up by three runs. It was just the just the second hit in 14 at bats for LaRoche on the current road trip.
"Adam grabbed his bat and went out there and hit one out with [Werth's] bat," the Nats' skipper recounted. "He figured he'd take the hot hitter's bat out there, so we got a kick out of that." Told it was Desmond's suggestion, Johnson said, "I wouldn't doubt it. These guys are something. They're all over each other. There was a lot of hazing going on before the ballgame so it's a good feeling."
Dan Haren put together his second strong start in a row after throwing seven good innings against the New York Mets last time out in the nation's capital. Haren threw a lot of pitches early tonight in Miller Park, but settled in and ended up at 102 pitches overall in 7.0 scoreless in which he allowed just four hits and two walks. "Haren pitched great," Johnson said, "He had a rough start. I thought as the game went on his rhythm got better and his location got better and he made better pitches. Great effort. We needed it. We were short in the pen. It was a great job."
It was Haren's first road win since May 2nd. He now has a 2.16 ERA in 25 IP since returning from the DL, and he's kept the ball in the park in four of his last five starts after giving up home runs in all but four of his first 15 outings this season.
"I know his shoulder is feeling a lot better and that's the good news," Johnson said when asked what's been different for the 32-year-old right-hander. "But probably the same thing why he's pitching better. He's not having to do as much to put something on it, and the ball is lively coming out of his hand, but that was a great effort. He had a bunch of pitches first couple innings and settled down and really pitched good and finished [at 102 pitches]."
Haren was (0-8) in 11 starts going back to the beginning of May before earning back-to-back wins in his last two outings. Going on the DL for just the second time in his 11-year career wasn't something Haren wanted to do, but the shot he got during that period of rest seems to have rejuvenated the veteran starter.
"He's got a great resume coming in," his manager said after the Nats' 54th win. "And I know he wasn't proud of the way it was going, but I think he felt better than he did in the year before because he struggled the year before in the first half and then came on in the second half and I think he felt coming in he was a lot healthier. Just sometimes a new league, whatever, you struggle a little bit, but he's certainly pitching good now and that's the good thing."
Taylor Jordan throws for the Nationals tomorrow in the series finale as they look to sweep the three-game set with the Brewers before heading home for three with Atlanta.