Game #9 Recap: Nats Complete the Sweep

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After a rather poor performance in Cincinnati last weekend, Dan Haren came into tonight’s game looking to make a better impression to the home crowd. While he wasn’t great, he did exactly what you need your fifth starter to do: keep your team in the ballgame.

Haren’s 1st inning was a preview to how most of the evening would go for Dan. After a strikeout and a flyout on six pitches, Alex Rios doubled and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Adam Dunn grounded out to second. Not a disastrous inning, as the job did get done, but it was far from ideal as he ended up throwing 17 pitches in the inning.

The Nats were far less kind to Dylan Axelrod. In the first inning alone he was worked for 40 pitches and a run, putting the Nationals up 1-0. More impressive than anything is the fact that Span and Werth combined to see 16 pitches to start the game. The Nats had a ‘give back’ inning in the top of the second, allowing the White Sox to tie the game at 1 on a single, a double and a groundout.

In the 3rd Axelrod allowed two more runs on a Harper single and a Desmond sac-fly to extend the Nats lead to 3-1. But, just as earlier in the game, the Nats gave those runs right back; allowing the White Sox to tie the game at 3 on two singles by Alejandro De Aza and Jeff Keppinger.

Axelrod was pulled after only 3.2 innings of work after surrendering two more runs in the fourth. The first on a wild pitch and the second after Ryan Zimmerman took offense to Harper being intentionally walked in front of him, expressing his displeasure with a two run double, bringing the Nats lead to 6-3. Haren ultimately made it through five full innings before calling it a night, qualifying for the win he deserved.

The Nats would not surrender that lead and the only sustained rally mounted by the White Sox came in the 6th inning when Ryan Mattheus allowed a run on a single, a walk and a double; leaving two on with two outs and Paul Konerko at the plate. Mattheus ended the threat by catching Konerko looking.

A perfect 7th and 8th by Mattheus and Clippard, along with an insurance run off of a Bryce Harper single in the bottom of the 8th paved the way for Rafael Soriano’s sixth save opportunity in nine games. Soriano, pitching for the third straight day, needed 24 pitches but secured the win after allowing only a Konerko single.

The Nats are back at it tomorrow evening against the division leading Atlanta Braves.

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