In the midst of Washington's 15-inning win against the Braves on Saturday, Dan Haren picked up his first Major League save. On Tuesday, the Nationals will need him to save them again.
Washington will hand the ball to its hottest pitcher and try to turn the page after being clobbered by the Cubs, 11-1, in the series opener on Monday at Wrigley Field. Haren was once the weak link of the Nationals' rotation, but after a stint on the disabled list in late June, he has been a completely different pitcher.
In seven starts since coming off the DL, the veteran right-hander is 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA, 44 strikeouts and just 10 walks. He has pitched at least six innings and allowed four hits or fewer in each of his past four starts.
"This is how we know Danny can pitch," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "I don't think anybody was more upset with the way he was pitching than himself. I think for him to come off the DL and pitch like he's pitched and finish the year strong, it shows you not only what kind of person he is, but what kind of pitcher he's been his whole career."
The Cubs will counter with left-hander Chris Rusin, who is coming off his second straight quality start. He allowed two runs on just three hits Wednesday against the Reds but still took the loss.
In 32 1/3 innings at the Major League level this season, Rusin has surrendered only three home runs and made a strong case for a spot in the Cubs' rotation next season. But he said after his last start that he's not letting that affect him.
"I don't even think about what players could be coming up or what my role is next year or anything," Rusin said. "I just go game to game, and that's what helps me. If I put too much pressure on myself, then that's when you start making mistakes and try to be too perfect."
Cubs: Hoyer laments offensive woes
The Cubs have been out of the playoff picture for almost all of this season, and general manager Jed Hoyer said Monday that poor situational hitting has been one of the biggest reasons why.
"We haven't been the worst batting average team in baseball or the National League for two years, but we've been the worst in scoring position," Hoyer said. "The fact that those things don't line up is a frustration. We have to get better at that. We have to get on base more, period. I think that's an issue we have.
"There's a team offensive element that I don't think we're all that good at. I think we're last in the league in sacrifice bunts, sacrifice flies. We have to get better at all those elements of the game."
• First baseman Anthony Rizzo missed Monday's game because of illness, including a migraine headache, according to manager Dale Sveum. Sveum hoped that Rizzo would return to the lineup on Tuesday.
Nationals: DeJesus swaps dugouts
Before Monday's game, David DeJesus said goodbye to his Cubs teammates and walked across Wrigley Field to the visitor's dugout. The Nationals had just acquired him for a player to be named.
"It's different, because I couldn't even find my way to the locker room," DeJesus said. "I've never been on this side of the field. … It was kind of surreal, but I got through it OK."
DeJesus hit .250 with 19 doubles, six home runs and 27 RBIs for the Cubs this season, and flied out as a pinch-hitter in his Nats debut on Monday night.
The Nationals released Roger Bernadina to make room for DeJesus.
• Tuesday will mark the 12th straight game in which the Cubs have faced a right-hander starting pitcher.
• With their one run on Monday, the Nationals have now scored fewer than three runs in 55 of their 124 games this season. Only the Marlins (59 times) have scored fewer than three runs more often.
Tom Schad is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.