Lannan cruising right along (Nats win 7-4)

VIERA, Fla. - Just a couple hours after Davey Johnson anointed John Lannan his fifth starter, the lefty showed that he might be close to being regular season-ready.

Lannan retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced today, striking out three Astros hitters in his first four innings of work.

He allowed a solo home run to Houston third baseman Chris Johnson in the second inning, and then gave up one more run in the fifth, but overall, Lannan looked really sharp. He mixed his pitches well, appeared to have good control of his fastball and kept the ball on the ground.

In the fifth inning, the Astros worked the bases loaded with none out, but it wasn't as if he got smacked around in the frame.

Lannan struck out Johnson leading off the inning, but the ball got away from catcher Wilson Ramos, allowing Johnson to reach first on a wild pitch. A walk and an infield single later, the Astros had the bags loaded, and they plated a run when Marvin Gonzalez's sac fly scored Johnson.

But Lannan did well to limit the damage from there, getting the next two Astros batters to get out of the inning.

He's thrown just 71 pitches through five innings of work (with 48 strikes), but with manager Davey Johnson wanting to get innings for Ross Detwiler and other pitchers, it wouldn't be a surprise if Lannan did not come out for the sixth.

The Nats lead 4-2 here in the bottom of the sixth, with Jason Michaels, Chad Tracy and Wilson Ramos delivering an RBI apiece for the Nationals.

Update: Yup, Lannan's day is done after five innings. Detwiler comes in for the sixth.

Here's Lannan's final line: Five innings, two hits, two earned runs, one walk, five strikeouts.

Roger Bernadina crushed a two-run homer to right-center in the sixth, giving the Nats a 6-2 lead. It's Bernadina's second home run in as many days.

Update II: The Nationals defeated the Astros 7-4.

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