AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — At 33 years old, in his 12th major league season, Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Dan Haren knows he’s going to get a stiff back now and then, just as he did during a 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
“I feel discomfort 24 hours a day, seven days a week, pretty much at this point in my career,” Haren said. “Some days are worse than others.”
What Haren (4-1) is less tolerant of is the up-and-down way his team is playing at the moment.
“We’re definitely not playing to our potential,” Haren said after falling short in his bid to start a season 5-0 for the first time.
“We’re just, like, treading water right now. We’re treading water, a few games over .500 in a really good division. Haven’t quite hit our stride yet,” he said. “I’m sure we’re going to go on a run sooner or later.”
The Dodgers dropped two of three games in Washington, after losing two of three at Miami. Now they head to LA for a seven-game homestand with a record of 19-16.
“It’s been a long road trip, that’s for sure,” said Haren, who gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings Wednesday to take the loss against the team he played for in 2013. “A lot of rain, different types of weather, delays, extra innings.”
This time, there was a rain delay of more than 1½ hours at the start. Stephen Strasburg (3-2) then gave up two runs in the first inning before recovering to pitch into the eighth, and Wilson Ramos produced a go-ahead sacrifice fly in his first game since opening day.
In the first, the Dodgers went ahead 2-0 by getting four consecutive singles, including run-scoring hits by Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig. But then Strasburg faced the minimum three batters in each of the second through fifth innings.
In the sixth, the Dodgers got two men on, but Andre Ethier grounded out to end the inning. In the eighth, they got two more aboard, but lefty Jerry Blevins came on to get Gonzalez to pop out in foul territory.
Righty Tyler Clippard then came in to face Puig, who flied out to center on the first pitch. Rafael Soriano threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save in seven chances, striking out Matt Kemp as a pinch hitter to close it.
Like Strasburg, Haren let in two runs in the first inning, both scoring on Adam LaRoche’s long single off the top of the wall down the line in right.
Washington broke the tie in the fifth, when hits by Denard Span and Jayson Werth, plus a walk to LaRoche, loaded the bases with one out for Ramos. He worked the count full before sending a fly ball to right field that Puig — back in the lineup after a two-game absence — ran down to grab. Puig then made a strong throw home, but Span beat it by a couple of steps to make it 3-2.
Asked about Haren’s health after the game, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly replied: “He’s fine. I’d ask him the same question, and he tells me, ‘My wife says the same thing to me.’ It looks like he hurts when he walks. I guess from his hip or whatever. But he’s fine.”
NOTES: Los Angeles returns home to open a four-game series against San Francisco on Thursday, with Dodgers RHP Josh Beckett (0-1, 3.14) facing Giants RHP Ryan Vogelsong (1-1, 4.60). “If you’re going to play .500 on the road, then you’ve got to play better at home. We haven’t played better at home yet,” Mattingly said. … Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke, who threw only three innings before a long rain delay Monday, will not be moved up for his next start and will head to the mound after usual rest Saturday against San Francisco, Mattingly said. … Puig went 1 for 3 with an RBI single and a walk. He rammed his head, left arm and lower left leg against the fence as he tried to track down a double in the ninth inning of Los Angeles’ loss at Miami on Sunday.
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