courtesy of philliefan99
Nats starter Dan Haren pitched one of his finer games of the 2013 season on Monday night but Washington fell just shy of a win over their National League foes from St. Louis. The Cardinals one upped the Nats wining 3-2 in the first game of a three game series.
In the clubs’ first match-up since the 2012 postseason, Haren held the Cardinals to six hits and three runs on 98 pitches, 56 for strikes, through five innings plus four batters. He walked three, struck out three, and hit a batter — a play which sparked the rally that won St. Louis the game.
The night was one of Haren’s stronger outings since joining the Nationals’ rotation in 2013 but 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Shelby Miller demonstrated impeccable command. He fanned eight over six and two-thirds innings on 98 pitches, 65 for strikes.
St. Louis scored first, in the third, after a couple shutout innings where each pitcher faced the minimum. Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma continued right where he left off with the Nats during the 2012 postseason by hitting a one-out single off Haren. Kozma then advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt laid down by Miller giving the Cardinals their first man in scoring position of the day. Haren went on to walk the next batter, second baseman Matt Carpenter, before giving up a two-out two-RBI double to first baseman Allen Craig –Cardinals 2, Nats 0.
Washington kept with the place when right fielder Jayson Werth led off the bottom of the fourth with a single off Miller. Two (strike)outs later, shortstop Ian Desmond a RBI-double — his twelfth extra-base hit of the season — to center field bringing Werth around to score and the Nats within one run of St. Louis.
Then, the recently called up rookie got his moment. Third baseman Anthony Rendon, who got called up from Class AA Harrisburg to play with the Nats on Sunday in New York after Washington sent Ryan Zimmerman to the 15-day disabled list, tied up the game at two runs a piece. He recorded his first Major League hit and RBI with a two-out double up the middle off Miller. Not bad for a home debut.
The sixth inning is when Haren’s strong outing started to fizzle St. Louis’ rally started with left fielder Matt Holliday leading off and getting hit by a pitch. The Cardinals proceeded to hit back-to-back singles — thanks to right fielder Carlos Beltran and catch Yaider Molina — and took back their lead on the Molina single that brought Holliday around to score. But with no one out, the bases loaded, and St. Louis up 3-2, Manager Davey Johnson pulled Haren in favor of right-handed reliever Craig Stammen.
Stammen got a couple quick outs on a 3-2-3 double play that center fielder Jon Jay hit in to. Stammen then intentionally walked Kozma with two outs, re-loading the bases, before striking out Miller.
The Nats had the tying run on second and the go-ahead run on first in the seventh inning with two outs but pinch hitter Chad Tracy couldn’t lay down a base hit for an RBI. He came close with a bloop hit that just about landed in the center field grass, but Jay was able to scoop it up. Tracy’s bat broke on contact and Jay was just fast enough to keep it from dropping.
Despite the loss, reliever Drew Storen got a chance for 2012 redemption. He faced Kozma in the ninth, striking him out, which must have felt great for the young pitcher after the way Game 5 of the NLDS ended in October. Storen gave up a tying two-out, two-run single to Daniel Descalso in that game and a go-ahead two-run single to Pete Kozma in the ninth inning allowing St. Louis to advance in the playoffs, but Storen looked good on Monday in his three up, three down performance.