The old Dan Haren returns for a night (Nats lose 11-3)

Since returning from the disabled list in early July, Dan Haren has been one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.

He's put up a 2.53 ERA in 10 games since that DL stint in late June, and held opposing hitters to a .208 batting average in that span.

That batting average against is going to rise quite a bit after tonight.

Haren is done after just 2 2/3 innings of work tonight, already on the hook for five runs. He retired just eight batters and allowed nine hits, six of which came in the third inning, when Haren couldn't seem to get anyone out.

Heard of the phrase "getting base hit to death"? Yeah, that's what happened to Haren in the third.

All six hits allowed in that frame were singles, and most weren't hit especially hard. Still, the Mets found the holes, have themselves a 5-0 lead, and have forced Davey Johnson to go to his bullpen very early in this one.

Haren had allowed more than two runs just twice in nine starts since returning from the DL. His shortest outing in that nine-start stretch was five innings.

Tonight, he's done before the game is an hour old and came off the field to a subdued chorus of boos (but a chorus nonetheless). Tanner Roark is on to try and keep this game respectable.

Update: The top of the third is finally over, and the Nationals trail 8-0.

Yeah, safe to say that frame was a complete disaster.

Roark allowed walks to the first two hitters he faced after coming on in relief, the second of which was to opposing pitcher Zack Wheeler, forcing in a run.

Eric Young then slapped a two-run single down the left field line, bringing in two more runs.

All in all, the Mets brought 11 batters to the plate in the third. They had seven hits and drew two walks.

The final line on Haren: 2 2/3 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 0 BB, 3 Ks, 57 pitches, 41 strikes.

Update II: The line score says it all.

Midway through the sixth inning, the Mets have eight runs on 12 hits. The Nats have no runs on two hits.

Total domination by the New Yorkers here tonight.

Roark didn't have his finest outing, but he did eat innings. The righty went 3 1/3, allowing one run on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts. He'll be removed for a pinch-hitter leading off the bottom of the sixth.

Still an 8-0 Mets lead in front of a dead-quiet Nats Park crowd.

Update III: The Nats finally got on the board in the sixth, with Jayson Werth's sac fly and Ian Desmond's broken-bat RBI single making it an 8-2 game.

Despite the two runs that came in, the Nats stranded two more, however. Adam LaRoche lined out sharpy to center to end the inning and bring an end to the brief rally.

LaRoche is now in an 0-for-14 skid, and his average is down to .233. That was one of the few balls he's struck well in the last few days, and it was right at Mets center fielder Matt den Dekker. That's just how things are going for LaRoche lately.

Update IV: Ryan Mattheus continues to struggle in the second half of the season.

Mattheus allowed three runs in the eighth, making this an 11-2 game. The Mets notched four hits and a walk off Mattheus in the inning, making this one even more lopsided than it already was.

Since coming back from the minors, Mattheus has now allowed five runs in three innings of work.

No bueno.

Update V: That'll do it. This one mercifully comes to an end, with the Mets taking it by an 11-3 final.

Haren drops to 8-12 on the season with the loss. Zack Wheeler is now 7-3 in what's been an impressive rookie season.

After winning eight of nine, the Nats have now lost two in a row - and if the Reds hang on to what's currently a 7-1 lead over the Rockies in the sixth inning, the Nats will again trail by 7 1/2 games in the wild card chase.

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