Nats get back on track with 5-2 win (Lannan optioned)

In the big picture, this game means just as much as any of the other 17 that the Nationals and Braves will play this season.

It's still July. There are still 70 games remaining in the regular season. The Nats will meet the Braves seven more times after today.

But from a momentum standpoint, this 5-2 Nationals win was a nice one for Davey Johnson's team to secure.

Instead of going into tomorrow's series finale with Atlanta with a chance of being swept in four straight, the Nats will have a shot at a split.

They got production from their offense after 15 innings of near inactivity. They got a win for John Lannan in his 2012 major league debut. They got Tyler Clippard back in the save column after four straight rocky performances.

And they got to brush some of the stink away from the last two ballgames, which were less than pretty from Johnson's perch.

The Nats tallied five runs over their final four innings at the plate, turning a 2-0 deficit into a 5-2 win. They got on the board on a wild pitch, tied the game with an RBI ground out, took the lead on a two-out RBI single from Roger Bernadina and then added two insurance runs in the eighth to give Clippard some breathing room.

It's been a long day. The Nats are probably pretty tired. I know I am.

But while it wouldn't have been the end of the world if the Nationals had lost tonight's game - as some people might have insisted it was - they'll sleep a lot easier tonight knowing they've at the very least salvaged a game in this series against their top division challenger.

Update: After the game, the Nationals announced they've optioned Lannan back to Triple-A Syracuse.

This is by no means a surprise; Lannan knew he was just getting the call for this one start and then would be heading back down to the minors. Because the Nats had taken advantage of the new rule allowing teams to have 26 guys on their active roster for doubleheaders, there's no corresponding roster move. They're set at the 25-man limit.

Lannan heads back to Syracuse, but he gets a thankful butt tap on his way out the door. He did his job today.

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