08/15/09 1:57 AM ET
Haren handcuffs Dodgers in opener
Four-run second provides ace with all the support he needs
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
D-backs manager A.J. Hinch called it aggressive baseball.
Mark Reynolds said one might have gotten away from Haren.
But whether Haren's pitch up and in on Andre Ethier sent a message or not, the D-backs delivered one loud and clear with a 4-1 win over the Dodgers on Friday night at Chase Field.
While they may be out of the playoff race, they are not about to go quietly the rest of the way.
With the D-backs up, 4-1, in the bottom of the seventh, Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario hit Reynolds in the shoulder with a pitch.
The next inning, after he retired the first two hitters, Haren hit Either in his upper back with a pitch. The former Arizona State University standout had some words for Haren as the right-hander motioned for him to take his base.
"I'm trying to go in for effect, I'm not necessarily trying to drill a guy," Haren said. "It got away from me and it got him. That's part of the game."
Of course, if Haren did say he intentionally hit Ethier, he would almost surely draw a fine or suspension.
"Guys can look into that the way they want," Hinch said. "I mean a couple of guys get hit and that's aggressive baseball."
Ethier was asked after the game if he had a history with Haren and he said, "No, but I guess we do now."
Reynolds, who is second in the National League in homers with 36, said he did not experience any ill effects of being hit.
"It's fine," Reynolds said. "He got me in the meat, so I'm OK."
As for whether he thought Haren was protecting him by hitting Ethier, Reynolds stopped short lest he not protect his pitcher with his answer.
"I don't know if one got away from him," Reynolds said. "If he was protecting me I appreciate it. That's what guys do, you protect your teammates. I think it definitely set a tone that we weren't going to back down. We may be 15 games out or 16 or whatever, but we're still here to play, we're still here to win and we're going to play the game the right way."
The D-backs' style of play of late is one of the reasons they have a 22-17 mark since July 1. Gone from the lineup are Conor Jackson, Eric Byrnes, Chris Young and Justin Upton. In their place are the likes of Trent Oeltjen, Rusty Ryal and Gerardo Parra.
What they may lack in raw talent, they have made up for in hustle to this point.
"The lineup isn't exactly household names," Haren said. "There's just a lot of energy, taking extra bases, I think we've been playing better defense too the last couple of weeks or so. It's nice to beat a team like the Dodgers and get the series off to a good start."
The D-backs gave Haren some early support with a four-run fourth inning during which they capitalized on the wildness of Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.
The left-hander walked three in the inning and uncorked a pair of wild pitches.
Haren helped his own cause by driving in one of the runs with a single to center. Miguel Montero and Augie Ojeda also drove in runs while another scored on a wild pitch.
That was all Haren would need as he allowed just one run over eight innings. It was quite a contrast to his previous four starts in which he had a combined ERA of 6.26, but the only difference was results and not stuff.
Haren worked his way out of a couple of big jams, including one in the sixth when he got James Loney to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners.
"I felt better one of the last couple of times, but didn't get the results," Haren said. "It came down to I made a few big pitches getting the double play with Loney up there and just getting out of some jams and making pitches when I needed to. I was down in the zone and I didn't make as many mistakes as I have been. I caught some breaks too, a couple of balls hit right at people."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.