WASHINGTON — Before a stint on the disabled list last month, Dan Haren was bad. Now that he’s healthy, he’s been nearly unbeatable.
Haren had his third straight winning start while Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman homered to help the Washington Nationals snap a four-game losing streak with a 9-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
“That’s more like it. I can sleep now,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson cracked after Haren’s latest strong outing and his offense’s rare outburst.
Haren (7-11) limited the Phillies to two runs and four hits over seven innings for his first career win against Philadelphia in eight starts. He struck out seven without issuing a walk. Over his last six starts, Haren has a 2.43 ERA.
“Physically I was fine. Mentally I was messed up…I couldn’t have really gotten much lower than I was when I got on the DL,” said Haren, who returned from the disabled list on July 8 after dealing with right shoulder inflammation. “I was probably a bad start or two away from getting released probably. That’s just the truth of it, I think. I definitely feel way better the way I’m pitching now. This is more me.”
John Lannan (3-5) allowed eight runs, nine hits and five walks over five innings against his former team. The Phillies have lost seven of their last nine games.
“Yeah he was having trouble with command,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Lannan, who spent his first six big league seasons in Washington. “Plus they hit some balls hard on him too.”
Adam LaRoche snapped a 0 for 16 lifetime skid against Lannan with an RBI double in the third. Denard Span’s two-run single capped a four-run fifth inning. Bryce Harper added an RBI single.
The Nationals went 6 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Rendon hit a two-run homer off Lannan in the second inning after the umpires confirmed it on instant replay. Three batters later, Zimmerman hit his 13th of the season, which landed several rows deep in the left-center stands.
Washington scored only six runs during a three-game sweep by the NL East-leading Braves this week.
Rather than keep Lannan as a potential fifth starter, Washington signed Haren to a lucrative one-year deal this offseason.
After struggling for the first part of the season — Washington dropped 11 consecutive starts with the right-hander on the mound — Haren has started to find his groove. He’s 3-0 with 1.29 ERA in his last three starts.
Before Friday’s matchup, Haren sported a 0-4 record with a 5.54 ERA in seven career starts against Philadelphia. That included three starts this season, all ending in Washington losses.
“He had better command,” Manuel said of Haren latest performance. “I wouldn’t say his stuff was any different. His command was definitely better and his pitch selection was better.”
This time, Haren held the Phillies without a hit until Michael Young’s one-out double in the fourth. Chase Utley followed with an RBI single, cutting the lead to 4-1. Philadelphia did not score again until the seventh by which time the Nationals had plated eight.
“This is definitely more like it,” Haren said. “I felt really good out there today, really comfortable. The ball was moving pretty good. Then obviously getting all the runs made it pretty easy.”
Lannan was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in three previous starts against Washington.
The Nationals went 1 for 19 with runners in scoring position against Atlanta. They started down that scuffling path in the first as LaRoche struck out with the bases loaded after Lannan issued two walks and a single.
Another scoring chance came in the second. With Wilson Ramos on second base, Rendon hit his sixth home run for a 2-0 lead.
Consecutive doubles by Ian Desmond and LaRoche made it 4-0.
LaRoche also singled off the Phillies starter in the fifth, setting up Ramos’ RBI double.
“I figured the odds were in my favor. I was due for something,” LaRoche said.
Haren’s bases-loaded walk came before Span’s two-run single in the fifth.
Ryan Mattheus and Ian Kroll each pitched one hitless inning of relief for Washington.
Notes: Haren now has wins against all 30 current Major League teams. …Manuel remains one win short of 1,000 victories for his career. … Before the game, Philadelphia designated OF Delmon Young for assignment, making room for OF Casper Wells, who the team claimed off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. The first overall pick in the 2003 MLB amateur draft, Young batted .261 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 80 games during his first season with the Phillies … LHP Cliff Lee (10-5, 3.13 ERA) opposes Nationals RHP Taylor Jordan (1-3, 3.76 ERA) on Saturday.
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