Haren, Nationals finish off sweep of White Sox

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WASHINGTON -- It is rare to see a starting pitcher score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. And not too many interleague games are played in which both starting pitchers get hits.

But that is exactly what happened Thursday night as Washington right-hander Dan Haren scored on a wild pitch in the fourth inning to help the Washington Nationals to a 7-4 victory against the Chicago White Sox and a sweep of the three-game series.

Haren, who was tagged for four homers in his first start of the year at Cincinnati, hit a one-out double to right before he came around to score.

"I saw where the ball went. I took my time coming into second. You saw my speed: There is not much there," Haren said with a smile.

"I knew he could hit when he came over here," Washington manager Davey Johnson said of Haren, who signed with the Nats prior to the season.

Haren was still on second when Jayson Werth hit a single in the fourth. Haren said he apologized to Werth for not scoring on his hit, but Haren did touch the plate on the wild pitch by Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod with Bryce Harper at the plate.

The White Sox then gave an intentional walk to Harper, and Ryan Zimmerman made them pay with a two-run double to right to give the Nats a 6-3 lead.

"It is their decision," Johnson said of the intentional walk. "Harper is swinging the bat pretty well. I'm glad I don't have to make those decisions (against a balanced Washington lineup)."

Harper is hitting .417.

Before an announced crowd of 24,785 on a windy night, Haren (1-1) went five innings and allowed 10 hits and three earned runs. He got the victory in his first home start for the Nationals, who are 7-2 as the first-place Atlanta Braves come to town Friday to begin a three-game series. The Nationals are 6-0 at home this season.

"Last time I was aggressive to a fault," Haren said of his outing vs. the Cincinnati Reds. "I still have work to do. It was nice to pitch in front of the home crowd. I have not shown everybody how good I can be."

Chicago starter Dylan Axelrod (0-1) needed 40 pitches to get out of the first inning against a balanced Washington lineup that hit four homers Tuesday and had five extra-base hits Wednesday.

"That's not the way you want to start, 40 pitches in the first inning. They made me work," said Avelrod, who got his first big-league hit. "I felt all right (after that), but obviously, the more pitches you throw, your stuff isn't the same, just doesn't have the zip on it."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said, "They made it extremely hard. Every time you go around, it gets a little harder. We actually swung it pretty good. It's a tough team. If you don't get those breaks, it's going to be tougher. We did swing it pretty good. We left a few guys on early. This is a tough team. You have to take advantage of everything if you're going to beat them."

The White Sox pulled to within 6-4 in the sixth against reliever Ryan Mattheus, who gave up an RBI double to Adam Dunn but then struck out Paul Konerko to end the threat.

Mattheus then retired all three batters in the seventh, two on strikeouts. Washington reliever Tyler Clippard set down all three White Sox batters in the eighth, and closer Rafael Soriano retired Chicago in the ninth to seal the win with his fifth save.

"It has been a little spotty, but I am not worried about it," Johnson said of his bullpen.

Harper (two hits, two walks) added an RBI single in the last of the eighth to give the Nationals a 7-4 lead. Werth, who reached on a hit-by-pitch, was thrown out at third to end the inning.

NOTES: Washington began the game with a slugging percentage of .518, the best in the majors, and 49.3 percent of the team's hits had been for extra bases. ... For the third game in a row, the White Sox were without pitching coach Don Cooper, who was taken to a Northern Virginia hospital on Tuesday with diverticulitis. Once he is released, he will recuperate at his home in Nashville and miss the rest of the road trip. Bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen filled in as pitching coach, with bullpen catcher Mark Salas working as the bullpen coach. Curt Hasler (pitching coordinator for the White Sox) will join the team in Cleveland on Friday to assist in the bullpen. ... Chicago second baseman Gordon Beckham was unavailable and is day-to-day because of nerve irritation in his left wrist. He left Tuesday's game in the third inning. ... Washington Wizards guard John Wall threw out the first pitch.