Lannan gets Nats back in win column

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Washington Nationals' players and front office personnel assembled for a team photo on the infield Friday afternoon, a ritual that might have evoked thoughts of airbrushing the current five-game losing streak, not to mention the slipping season.

If there were any clenched smiles before the game, there were genuine grins afterward, thanks to an early touching up of Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders (West Springfield), a satisfying outing from Washington left-hander John Lannan and a total of 10 hits in a 4-2 sour-streak ender in front of 19,549 at Nationals Park.

Lannan cruised early, retiring 13 of the first 14 Diamondbacks, and his infield turned an inning-ending double play to get him out of trouble in the fifth and then notched another double play for the first two outs of the sixth.

Lannan, the opening day starter who later was sent down to Class AA Harrisburg for six weeks, threw seven strong innings for his second win in as many starts, book-ending the losing streak. He gave up four hits, two runs, struck out five and walked one.

"I just feel good out there," Lannan said. "I'm confident in my stuff. I spent time [in Harrisburg] trying to get my two-seam back and just getting in a good position . . . where I was being more deceptive.

"When I left here, my confidence was there, I just wasn't making pitches. I didn't have any feel for it."

Nationals catcher Wil Nieves said Lannan was even more impressive against Arizona than he was last Friday against the Dodgers, when he gave up five hits in six innings. And certainly more impressive than before he went to Harrisburg.

"I think it's just night and day," Nieves said. "His confidence went way up and when his sinker is working, he's pretty effective. What I've seen the last two outings, he has it, he just needs to be consistent with it.

"The last time I caught him he looked good. Today he looked better. So that's always a good sign."

Lannan is now 3-1 against the Diamondbacks in his career, allowing three runs in 26 innings (1.04 ERA).

Sean Burnett struck out the side in the eighth and retired the Diamondbacks in order in the ninth to notch his second save of the season.

Washington staked Lannan to a 3-0 lead in the first. Alberto Gonzlez and Ian Desmond led off with singles and scored one out later when Ryan Zimmerman singled past diving shortstop Stephen Drew. With two outs, Michael Morse had a similar RBI hit, this time on a grounder that went beyond the outstretched glove of third baseman Mark Reynolds and under the glove of Drew.

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