Over the last month of the season, Dan Haren has emerged as the most consistent member of the Nationals starting rotation. Continuing his recent trend of dominance, Haren(8-11) stifled a Chicago offense that is 2nd in the NL in home runs, and lead the Nats to a 4-2 victory.
Haren was excellent in his start Tuesday. After a night in which Jordan Zimmermann gave up eight runs, Haren made pitching look easy, tempting the Cubs with cutters and splits just out of the strike zone and painting high 80′s fastballs on the corners. His only blemish was giving up a solo home run to Brian Bogusevic in the fourth inning. Overall, Haren tossed six strong innings of one run ball, striking out six and lowering his season ERA to 4.64.
The offense, while stifled by Cubs rookie left hander Chris Rusin(2-3) produced enough runs for a victory. Ryan Zimmerman drove in a run in the first inning with a booming single to left, and Ryan would later double again and score on a base hit by Tyler Moore in the sixth inning. In the ninth inning, the Nationals would get two critical insurance rubs. A leadoff double by Bryce Harper down the right field line was followed by a chop base hit by Ian Desmond over Anthony Rizzo and into right to score Harper. Desmond would be caught stealing, but Cubs closer Kevin Gregg walked Zimmerman and Jayson Werth before Zim scored on a base hit by Denard Span. Coming off the bench, Denard Span had a nice game with a base hit and an excellent running catch in left center field.
In the bottom of the inning, Rafael Soriano came in looking to shake off some of the poor outings he has had recently. While Donnie Murphy took Soriano deep to left field to lead off the inning, the Nats closer was able to bear down and secure the win. Soriano’s ERA was raised to 3.78, as he gave up his seventh home run of the year, a high number for a closer.