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CIN@WSH: Haren strikes out five over six innings

The Nationals finally broke through against the Braves on Wednesday, putting them in a position to go for a series split on Thursday night at Turner Field.

Atlanta had won all five games it played against Washington this season and nine straight going back to last season before the visitors pulled out a 2-0 victory on Wednesday. That brought the Nationals back within 3 1/2 games of the Braves in the National League East.

Dan Haren gets the start for the Nationals on Thursday against the Braves' Kris Medlen as Washington tries to build on another strong performance by Jordan Zimmermann.

Haren will be hoping that his start on Saturday vs. the Reds signals a move in the right direction. Against Cincinnati, the veteran righty allowed a season-low two runs in a season-high six innings, striking out five and walking none.

"I have to be like this or better the rest of the year. There is no excuse not to be," Haren said. "I'm happy with the way it went. I'm not going to get too [overboard] about it. It's just one start. I think I'll be throwing the ball a little bit better as the year goes on. I'll definitely try to build off this one as well."

Right-hander Medlen will get the ball as he tries to bounce back from a rough outing against the Tigers on Saturday, when he battled his mechanics while surrendering five runs and a career-high 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"I think every pitcher is going to get their [tail] kicked at some point this year," Medlen said. "Hopefully, it was my day today to get [mine] kicked a little bit. I battled ... today, but they did some damage with a couple of pitches."

Nationals: Harper banged up
Outfielder Bryce Harper left Wednesday's game in the sixth inning after feeling the effects of a bruise sustained on Tuesday. During an at-bat, he tried to check his swing and winced in pain. He bruised his left side on Tuesday, when he crashed into the right-field wall at Turner Field trying to make a catch.

• Outfielder Jayson Werth, who is dealing with cramping in his right hamstring and a sore right ankle, was out of the lineup on Wednesday for the second straight day. Werth hit a foul ball off the ankle on Monday.

Braves: B.J. Upton, Uggla struggling
Center fielder B.J. Upton and second baseman Dan Uggla both went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts on Wednesday, and their batting averages dropped even further below .200. Uggla is now hitting .163; Upton is at .138.

Since a two-hit game on April 18, Upton is on a 4-for-40 slide, with one extra-base hit and 18 strikeouts. Uggla has gone hitless in four of his past five games.

• The Braves were handed their fifth shutout of the season on Wednesday.

Worth noting
• Haren hasn't faced the Braves since 2012. In three career starts at Turner Field, he is 2-1 but has a 7.31 ERA.

• B.J. Upton is 10-for-31 against Haren, with five home runs, 11 strikeouts and no walks.

• In two starts against them last year, Medlen held the Nationals to one run on 12 hits in 14 innings, walking two and striking out 20.

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