Command remains an issue for Haren

Command remains an issue for Haren

TORONTO -- Dan Haren had a simple answer when asked about his most recent outing, on Thursday against the Blue Jays.

"I need to stop giving up three-run homers," Haren said. "It's been a nice little theme for me lately."

That's happened three times in a row now. First it was Aaron Hill of the D-backs, then Bobby Abreu of the Dodgers and, at Rogers Centre on Thursday, it was Jose Bautista, who hit a three-run bomb in the bottom of the fifth to ensure Haren would not put up a quality start for the ninth time in 16 starts this season.

The Angels got the win in the opener of the four-game series, 9-7, but Haren continued to struggle, giving up six runs on seven hits (two of them homers) in six innings to put his ERA at 4.53 ERA. He's now given up 15 homers this season after surrendering 20 in 2011.

"I've got tons of confidence in Dan," manager Mike Scioscia said. "The one thing about Dan, which I think he can do better, is control and command some counts a little bit."

Asked if he had any reason to believe Haren's back is still bothering him, as it did earlier this year, Scioscia said, "None whatsoever."

The problem, Haren will tell you, is all about location. He knows he's not the guy who used to throw in the mid-90s anymore, so his margin for error is a whole lot smaller, and his location needs to be that much more crisp.

Haren, one of baseball's most consistent starters from 2005-11, went through similar struggles in 2010, posting a 5.35 ERA in the first two months, then a 2.91 ERA in the final two after being sent from the D-backs to the Angels.

The key to the turnaround then?

"Getting the ball down," Haren said.

And that's what the 31-year-old right-hander is working on in order to stop giving up so many home runs and provide his team with the quality starts it expects from him.

"I have to do more to help this ballclub, because we're playing too good right now," he said. "I'm confident in myself, and I'm confident in my work ethic in between. I'm not going to let that be the reason why I'm not doing well."