Haren still not where he wants to be, but a win is a "few steps forward"

Dan Haren has pitched for five different teams in the majors and has won 120 games.

But after a 15-0 loss at Cincinnati last Friday, Haren desperately wanted to bounce back and make a good impression in front of the fans of his newest team.

And just like a veteran pitcher, he found his way out of sticky situations Thursday.

Scattering 10 hits over five innings, Haren held the Chicago White Sox to three runs and notched his first victory of the season, a 7-4 Nationals' win.

"I think I took a few steps forward," Haren said. "I think I threw the ball better than maybe the line score would dictate. The conditions weren't great out there. Most important thing is we won the game. Obviously, it went a little better than last time, but I still haven't been at my best yet."

Manager Davey Johnson believes Haren is getting closer to the groove he had before last year's lower back tightness forced him to the disabled list for the first time in his career.

"He is still not where he wants to be, I am sure," Johnson said. "They have a lot of guys that can swing the bat over there. But he is getting better. That was big for him. I wanted to get him a win to get him in more of a positive note."

But Johnson does see where Haren needs improvement.

"He is throwing the ball good," Johnson said. "He has got good velocity. That is one thing he was missing last year. But it is all about command, making your pitches. He was up a lot today."

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said he saw some good things from Haren on Thursday, but he also saw Haren make some good pitches in Cincinnati, despite getting roughed up in the 15-0 loss.

"Danny has actually been throwing the ball well," Zimmerman said. "In Cincinnati, he threw the ball well but he made a couple of bad pitches. In that park, if you make a couple of bad pitches, obviously if you make bad pitches in that park you don't get them back.

"Danny is going to be fine. He has done this for a long time. He goes out there and competes. I thought he threw the ball well the last two times, he just had some bad luck."

Zimmerman sees Haren fitting in well on his new team.

"Being in the American League and then the Diamondbacks, we didn't get the chance to play him that much," Zimmerman said. "He is a competitor. He is funny. He fits right in with this team. He is good to have on this team."

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