Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/25/12

Los Angeles Angels right-hander Dan Haren is justifiably proud of his status as a workhorse. He has never missed a start in his professional career, leads the majors in starts since 2005 and has pitched at least 215 innings each of the past seven consecutive seasons, the longest active streak in the majors.

But Haren was too proud to point to the lower back pain he had been experiencing for much of this season as the explanation for his 1-5 record and 4.37 ERA going into Thursday's start against the Seattle Mariners.

"It hasn't helped," Haren offered after pitching a four-hit shutout in a 3-0 win over the Mariners. "Even pitching 80 percent, I should have been getting better results than I was getting. I think it was obvious tonight my stuff was much better."

Haren said the lowest point came May 8 against the Twins. With a cold, rainy night exacerbating his back stiffness, he lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowed five runs and didn't strike out a batter for the first time in 247 starts.

"It contributed," manager Mike Scioscia said of the back pain and Haren's poor results this season. "No pitcher is going to go out there 100 percent every start. Dan pitched through some things like all pitchers do. He had trouble finishing pitches at times. The back issue might have contributed to some of his pitches being elevated this season.

"All in all, Dan competes. There were some mechanical things, too, so I don't think you can put it all on his back. But he put it all together tonight."

Haren struck out a career-high 14 without walking a batter Thursday. He only went as far as a three-ball count once, before he struck out Mariners first baseman Mike Carp to end the seventh inning.

The strikeout total was the second most without a walk in Angels history. Frank Tanana struck out 17 and didn't walk a batter against the Rangers on June 21, 1975.

Haren's four-hitter continued a string of low-hit games by Angels starters. In the past three games, C.J. Wilson, Jered Weaver and Haren have combined to allow just one run on eight hits while striking out 25 in 25 innings against the Oakland A's and Mariners.

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