Nationals starter Dan Haren may not have looked much sharper in his second start with the team than he did in his first, but the result was certainly better. The 11-year veteran took the victory in the Nats’ 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox despite throwing 101 pitches through five innings and allowing three earned runs off ten hits. It wasn’t pretty, but he got the job done.

“Today I took a few steps forward,” Haren said. “I think I threw the ball better than maybe the line score would dictate, but the conditions weren’t great out there. The most important thing is that we won the game. Obviously I did a little better than last time, but I still haven’t been at my best yet.”

Haren fared better than his woeful six-earned run outing in Cincinnati last weekend, but he was nowhere near his best in front of the 24,785 fans at Nationals Park on Thursday night. Haren’s ten hits allowed made him the first Washington pitcher since the Senators’ Casey Cox in 1970 to give up at least nine in their first two games of the season.

Haren began the first inning on a good note with a 19 pitch scoreless frame. He gave up a run in the second on a Tyler Flowers sacrifice fly and then two in the fourth inning off back-to-back RBI singles. Haren didn’t allow any home runs this time, he just wasn’t hitting his spots.

“He’s throwing the ball good,” Davey Johnson said. “He’s got good velocity. That was one thing that was missing last year. But it’s command. It’s all about command, making your pitches. He was up a lot today.”