Haren and Span doing the job early (Nats lose 8-3)

Dan Haren got smacked around pretty good his last time out, allowing five runs on seven hits in just four innings of work in a loss to the Mets.

Haren was left incredibly frustrated with himself after the game, saying he felt like he was letting his team down.

Tonight, Haren’s the one frustrating the Rockies.

The veteran right-hander has pitched four scoreless innings thus far tonight, allowing just two runners to reach base in that span.

Haren’s retired 11 of the last 12 Rockies hitters he’s faced since a squib double down the right field line off the bat of Nolan Arenado in the first inning, and he’s struck out five already.

The offspeed stuff has really been sharp from Haren tonight, and he’s kept the ball out of the fat part of the plate. His pitches are diving down and out of the zone, which is when he’s effective.

While the number of home runs Haren has allowed this season (15) and his overall 2013 stats entering tonight (5.45 ERA, 1.360 WHIP) might’ve led some to believe he was in for a rough night at the launching pad that is Coors Field, Haren has actually had decent success in Colorado in his career.

Haren had a 5-2 record with a respectable 4.10 ERA in eight career starts at Coors Field coming into tonight, and that ERA keeps dropping every time he walks off the mound tonight.

Haren got some early run support courtesy of Denard Span in the second inning, when Span ripped a two-out, two-run double to right, a knock that brought in Anthony Rendon and Kurt Suzuki.

Span now has seven RBIs in his last 14 games, giving him 18 on the season.

Seven different Nats have hits tonight off Jhoulys Chacin, whose pitch count is rising quickly.

It’s 2-0 Nats after four.

Update: It all turned so quickly.

Haren had been cruising, cutting his way through the Rockies’ order with ease and putting up zeros at a brisk pace.

He then allowed five runs in the fifth inning on six hits and a walk, and the Nats suddenly trail 5-2.

Haren gave up two homers in that fifth inning - a two-run shot to Tyler Colvin and a three-run line drive homer to Carlos Gonzalez - leaving Haren with 17 longballs allowed this season. That’s the most of any pitcher in the majors.

He’s allowed 2.1 homers per nine innings this year, nearly double his career average of 1.1 homers per nine.

The longballs are a problem, and so is the inconsistency. Haren’s ERA now sits at 5.70, this after he had looked so good early on tonight.

Update II: The Nats got one back in the eighth on Ian Desmond’s RBI single to left, a knock that plated Jayson Werth from second to make it a 5-3 game.

Desmond extended his hit-streak to 13 with the single, and during that stretch, he’s batting .340 with eight RBIs.

Fernando Abad worked a scoreless seventh inning for the Nats, giving him 10 straight scoreless appearances since getting bumped up to the big leagues.

That’s lovely and all, but the Nats still will trail by at least two entering the ninth. That five-run Rockies fifth inning will be tough to overcome tonight.

Update III: Drew Storen allowed three runs in the bottom of the eighth and the Nats went down in order in the ninth, closing out an 8-3 loss to the Rockies.

The Rockies put up all eight runs in two innings. The Nats scored just one run after the second.

The Nats fall back below .500 at 31-32.

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