A rocky start (and a rocky fifth inning)

Six Nationals have come to the plate so far today. All six have been retired by Padres starter Andrew Cashner.

Eleven Padres hitters have come to the plate thus far. Five reached base off Dan Haren, and three came around to score.

The Nats trail the Padres 3-0 in the finale of this four-game set, which doesn’t bode well for Davey Johnson’s club, given the lineup the Nats have in play today and the way that this club has struggled scoring runs late in games.

Four of the guys in the Nats lineup today are hitting under .210. Ryan Zimmerman has the highest batting average in the order, and he’s now got a .269 mark next to his name.

Bryce Harper is resting a sore left knee, Jayson Werth is dealing with lingering hamstring tightness, Ian Desmond is getting a day off and Wilson Ramos is also on the DL with a hamstring injury.

There isn’t a whole lot of offensive firepower in the lineup for the Nats today.

On top of that, the largest deficit the Nats have overcome in a win this season has been two runs.

When they score first, the Nats dominate. When they fall behind, the offense disappears.

Haren’s location wasn’t great in the first inning, which led to the three hits he surrendered. He kept the ball out of the middle of the plate in the second frame, but early on, he looked more like the Dan Haren we saw in his first few starts this season than the Dan Haren we’ve seen lately.

His fastball found the heart of the plate, his offspeed stuff was up, and he got hit.

There are still seven innings left in this ballgame, but given the way the Nats have really had issues coming back in games and putting up runs late, things don’t look too promising.

Update: Zimmerman’s third home run of the season went a long, long way. It’s also cut the Padres’ lead to one.

Zimmerman cranked a 3-1 fastball from Cashner into the second deck in left, and the two-run shot has made this a 3-2 ballgame in the fourth inning.

Steve Lombardozzi led off the fourth by reaching on an infield single. His comebacker drilled Cashner on the upper right arm, and you have to wonder if the big right-hander has been affected by that play.

He fell behind Zimmerman, served up the longball and then walked Roger Bernadina before getting out of the inning.

Update II: Haren gave up two homers in the fifth - one of which was hit so hard by Kyle Blanks that it should count as two homers - and all of a sudden, the Padres are up 7-2.

Yet again, it was poor location that plagued Haren in the fifth. His pitch to Blanks was a meatball, an 84 mph cutter that was right down Broadway.

The Padres have nine hits off Haren through five innings, and the veteran right-hander has walked two, which is out of character for a guy who has the fifth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in history.

His day is done after just the five innings, and he’ll leave hoping his offense can come alive and bail him out.

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