Haren's strong start lifts Nationals over Brewers
Brewers' offense sputters again
With just one hit in his last 28 at-bats, Adam LaRoche made his way to home plate in the sixth inning of Washington's Saturday night affair iwith some new lumber.
Instead of using his own bat, he opted to borrow one from Jayson Werth, who opened the series against the Brewers with five hits in his first six at-bats.
The move paid off as LaRoche slammed a two-out home run to left, helping the Nationals to a 3-0 victory.
"My bat has not been feeling very good lately so why not give someone else's a try," LaRoche said. "I got a pitch I could hit and I was able to drive it."
LaRoche's home run was one of two allowed by Brewers starter Donovan Hand, who scattered five hits and a walk in seven innings and finished with three strikeouts.
Along with LaRoche, Wilson Ramos added a one-out solo shot in the fifth inning.
In six starts this season, Hand has not allowed more than three earned runs but has yet to earn a victory.
"I had my stuff early," Hand said. "I threw pretty well, got through seven and kept us in the game, but I've just got to be better.
"The home runs, I didn't think they hit them that well, but they still got out and put a run on the board. Just have to be a little better in that area and be on every pitch. When I leave one up, they hit it."
The two home runs provided plenty of offense for Washington starter Dan Haren.
Haren (6-11) won consecutive starts for the first time since May 9, allowing four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. In his last two starts, Haren is 2-0 and has allowed one run, seven hits and three walks in 14 innings with 12 strikeouts.
"Going on the disabled list gave me a chance to regroup," Harn said, referring to a July stint to rest a sore shoulder. "I wanted to leave the first part of the season behind and help the team try and get back into the race."
Tyler Clippard preserved the shutout in the eighth and Rafael Soriano worked a perfect ninth for his 28th save of the season.
The Nationals' strong pitching continued an offensive slump for Milwaukee.
Since scoring two runs in the ninth inning of their 3-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, the Brewers have managed to score just two in their last 27 innings while collecting a combined 18 hits and striking out 22 times.
"The last two days, we've faced guys throwing the ball really good," Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez said. "We can be frustrated, but you have to give credit sometimes (to the opposing pitchers). We have to play the game, but when the pitcher throws low in the zone and commands all his pitches, that makes it tough."
Milwaukee's only scoring chance came in the first inning. Rickie Weeks led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Norichika Aoki. Jean Segura struck out and Jonathan Lucroy walked before Carlos Gomez ended the inning with a liner to short, leaving Gomez stranded at third.
"When we get these opportunities, we need to figure out a way to get those guys in," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "We didn't have a lot today, but when we do have the opportunity -- and at that point a ground ball to the infield scores the guy -- we have to find a way to put it in play."
Anthony Rendon gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the second with a sacrifice fly to right. Aoki's throw was right on the money, but Lucroy missed the tag at the plate on sliding Jayson Werth by a few inches.
NOTES: Roenicke still was not sure that Tom Gorzelanny would be able to make his next start. Gorzelanny's elbow remained swollen a day after being struck by a Jayson Werth line drive. ... Ross Detwiler might not return this season, Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. Detwiler has been sidelined with a back strain since July 7 and needs at least two more weeks before he can resume baseball-related activities. GM Mike Rizzo said he will meet with Detwiler and the team's medical staff sometime next week. ... Roenicke plans to platoon Rickie Weeks and Scooter Gennett at second base during the next few weeks. Weeks started Saturday. ... Johnson moved CF Denard Span back into the leadoff spot against Hand. Span came into the game hitting .312 this season but went 0-for-4 on Saturday.
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