Right-hander Dan Haren is off to a great start for the Dodgers, going 4-0 with a 2.39 ERA in six starts. Even though his velocity is down, Haren said he is trying to keep things simple. He is locating the ball better and keeping the ball down in the zone.
"I'm getting much better results. I try to maintain a momentum that I had the last few months of last year that I take into this year," Haren said.
A year ago at this time, Haren was with the Nationals and experiencing the worst season of his career. In fact, during the first half of the season, Haren had a 5.61 ERA, but in the second half he had a respectable 3.52 ERA.
Haren will pitch against his former team on Wednesday.
"You always want to make a good impression coming to a team," Haren said. "I think I tried a little too hard last year. There were a lot of expectations for the team and for me coming out of spring training. Things snowballed for me. I was able to catch my breath and finish strong. The hole that I dug and the team dug, we weren't able to come out of it."
Haren will be facing right-hander Stephen Strasburg, who ended up with a no-decision against the Phillies last Friday. He had one poor inning and it occurred in the bottom of the first. It looked like Strasburg was going to get out of the inning unscathed.
With runners on first and second and two outs, Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd hit a fly ball to the right-field corner and it looked like Jayson Werth had a bead on the ball, but he dropped it for an error in foul territory.
Three pitches later, Byrd homered over the right-center-field fence to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead. All three runs were unearned.
Strasburg will face the Dodgers for the fourth time in his career. He has allowed three runs in 19 innings and struck out 19 batters.
Ddogers: Offense wakes up in DC
The Dodgers struggled on offense during the first game of this series against the Nationals. But the offense woke up as they scored eight runs on Tuesday.
A big key was the power that came against the Washington bullpen. Hanley Ramirez hit a solo homer and Drew Butera later added a three-run blast, both of which came in the eighth inning. That broke the game open, and if the Dodgers can continue to hit better, it will give their strong starting staff some much-needed support, which can be important on this long and difficult road trip they're going through.
Nationals: LaRoche is pleasant surprise
Nationals manager Matt Williams said first baseman Adam LaRoche is his most pleasant surprise this season. LaRoche is generally a slow starter, but entering Wednesday's action against the Dodgers, LaRoche is 35-for-108 with five home runs, 19 RBIs and a .425 on-base percentage.
"He has been in the middle of our lineup and really doing well, really hitting left-handers well," Williams said. "So that is the most pleasant surprise."
• The Nationals are 15-1 when scoring four or more runs and 3-14 when limited to three runs or fewer.
• The Nationals are 17-10 in games started by Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Tanner Roark.
• Dating back to Aug. 27th, closer Rafael Soriano has tossed 24 consecutive scoreless innings.
• Carl Crawford has had multi-hit games in the first two games of this series. He's also got a four-game hitting streak heading into the series finale.
• Ramirez is among the active leaders in several offensive categories against the Nationals. He's now hit in 93 of 117 career games against Washington.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.