Though the lack of a clutch hit was the main focus of last night's 3-2 loss to the Cardinals, there were several other developments worth noting from the Nationals' perspective.

Let's run through three of them...

HAREN SHOWS SIGNS OF PROGRESS
It was by no means a quality start, either by the official definition or based purely on observation, but Dan Haren did make some big strides in his fourth outing as a National.

After getting beat around by the Reds, White Sox and Marlins, Haren was mostly effective against a tough St. Louis lineup. He gave up a two-run double to Allen Craig in the third when Denard Span couldn't quite haul the ball in against the wall. But otherwise, the right-hander was unscathed through his first five innings of work.

"I guess a little bit better," he said. "I mean, I gotta get obviously deeper in the game. I feel good. My stuff is good. ... I gave us a chance until the fifth. Then I got into a mess."

Indeed, he did. Given a chance to take the mound for the sixth inning for the first time this season, Haren immediately put himself in a jam, plunking Matt Holliday with a pitch. Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina followed with singles, and Haren compounded matters by walking David Freese.

The walks (he had three in this game) and the hit batter were most surprising and frustrating for Haren, who has made a career out of keeping the ball in the strike zone.