Nats blank Brewers
Milwaukee, WI – Adam LaRoche and Wilson Ramos each belted solo homers, while Dan Haren pitched effectively for a second straight outing in the Washington Nationals' 3-0 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
Haren (6-11) struck out six, scattered four hits and walked only two over seven shutout innings. The underachieving righty has now won two in a row since dropping eight straight decisions.
"Haren pitched great, he had a rough start but I thought as the game went on his rhythm got better, his location got better and made better pitches," said Nationals manager Davey Johnson. "Great effort."
Rafael Soriano tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his 28th save for the second place Nats, who despite winning six of their last nine contests, still trail the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves by 11 1/2 games.
Rookie Donovan Hand (0-3) made his sixth start and surrendered both homers as well as a sac fly to Anthony Rendon. The converted reliever did throw a season-best seven innings, but the Brewers managed only four hits and dropped a third straight game.
"He gave up some home runs but homers are mistake pitches and solo homers aren't going to beat you if you're swinging the bat okay, which we didn't," said Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Jayson Werth scored the first run. He singled to start the second, swiped third after Ian Desmond walked, then came home on Rendon's sac fly to open a 1-0 lead for the Nationals.
Ramos clubbed a one-out slider over the left field wall in the fifth to extend the Nats' lead and LaRoche made it 3-0 the following frame with an opposite field solo shot to left.
That was plenty of support for Haren, who settled in nicely after Rickie Weeks led off the first inning with a double. He served up just three singles over the remainder of his start.
Yuniesky Betancourt had a chance to get something going off Haren when he started off the fifth by ripping a shot into left, but he was gunned down by Bryce Harper at second trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Washington's bullpen finished off Haren's solid start, with Tyler Clippard and Soriano each tossing a hitless frame to secure the win.
The Nationals improved to 7-8 when facing rookie starters this season ... Washington is 48-12 when scoring three or more runs this season against a 6-44 mark when scoring less than two ... Khris Davis and Jeff Bianchi each had a hit for the Brewers.