Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper leaps up to catch a liner by Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder for an out during the first inning of a baseball game, Thursday, May 9, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
WASHINGTON — Ryan Mattheus, Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano combined for shutout relief after Dan Haren nearly squandered a four-run lead, and the Washington Nationals beat the Detroit Tigers 5-4 today to complete a two-game sweep of the AL champions.
Adam LaRoche singled in the first and second innings for his first consecutive multihit games this season, helping the Nationals to their first four-game winning streak of the year. Ryan Zimmerman, in a 2-for-14 slide coming in, had three hits.
Bryce Harper hit an RBI groundout in the first following Denard Span's leadoff double, and Harper came home from second when LaRoche singled and centerfielder Austin Jackson let the ball get past him for an error. Ian Desmond followed with a run-scoring single for a 3-1 lead.
Tigers pitcher Doug Fister (4-1) had an RBI single in the second off Haren (4-3), but the Nationals made it 5-1 in the bottom half on consecutive run-scoring singles by Zimmerman and LaRoche.
LaRoche has eight hits in his last 14 at-bats, raising his average from .129 through May 1 to .196.
"I like where he's at," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said before the game. "I think he's seeing the ball better. His timing's coming around."
Haren allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings, giving up a three-run homer in the sixth to Matt Tuiasosopo. That was the Tigers' first home run by a pinch hitter since Ryan Rayburn at the Chicago White Sox on Sept. 14, 2011.
Washington's three relievers had identical lines, each giving up a hit and striking out a batter in an inning. Soriano conveted his 12th save in 13 chances, retiring Prince Fielder on a game-ending flyout to the center field warning track with a man on.
Fister gave up five runs — four earned — eight hits and four walks in three innings, his first loss since Game 2 of the World Series at San Francisco last October. He was removed for a pinch hitter in the fourth. It was his shortest career start other than an outing at Cleveland in August 2011 when he was taken out after two innings because of a lengthy rain delay.
Fister drove in a run with his first hit since June 26, 2011, for Seattle. It was the first RBI by a Tigers pitcher since Rick Porcello had two on June 12, 2009.
Detroit had entered with nine wins in 10 games only to get swept for the first time since losing three games at the Los Angeles Angels from April 19-21. Omar Infante had three hits for the Tigers.
NOTES: The game was a makeup of Tuesday night's rainout. Rain fell during the second and third innings today but play was not halted. ... Nationals OF Jayson Werth (strained right hamstring) took batting practice but missed his fifth straight game. Johnson said Werth's MRI was "pretty negative," indicating no serious problems. ... The Tigers' Jim Leyland has managed at every current big league ballpark other than Marlins Park, which opened in 2012. ... Ross Detwiler (1-3, 2.50) will face Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.09) on Friday night in Washington. ... Max Scherzer (4-0, 3.43) starts at home Friday, opposed by RHP Cleveland's Corey Kluber (2-1, 3.06).