PHILADELPHIA - In the vast majority of John Lannan’s seven career starts at Citizens Bank Park prior to tonight, he’d gotten into trouble and had a hard time working his way clear of it.
That wasn’t the case tonight. Lannan went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits, and improved to 4-0 on the season in the process.
“I’ve always come in and always thought I’ve pitched well (in Philadelphia), but some stuff didn’t go my way,” Lannan said. “But tonight, I told myself I wasn’t going to let that kind of stuff happen. Just kind of try to bounce back from my last start against LA. I knew this was a big win for the team, so I tried to go out there and give it everything I’ve got.”
The big spot for Lannan was the third inning, when the Phillies loaded the bases with one out in a 5-1 game. Instead of letting things spiral out of control, Lannan stayed composed and worked out of the jam by striking out Ryan Howard and getting Carlos Ruiz to ground out back to him.
“I’ve been there before here (in Philly),” Lannan said. “I’ve been in that situation here so many times and come up short, so I told myself not to do what I did back then. I don’t even know what I was doing, I just told myself I wasn’t going to let it happen because it’s happened so many times here. I kind of was fed up with it.”
This is now the second time this season that Lannan has picked up a win at a big time for the Nats. Had the Nationals dropped another game tonight, they would’ve been just three games up on the Braves, who are now 9-2 in their last 11 games. The Nats, on the other hand, are just 5-7 since entering the series in Atlanta nearly two weeks ago. They needed a win, and Lannan helped provide it.
“John Lannan pitched a heck of a ball game,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s been outstanding for us this year. That’s his fourth win up here. Big game against Atlanta, big one here. He’s just been a big boost for us.
“I know he’s had a tough row to hoe but I tip my hat to him. He’s always sharp and (does) anything to help the ballclub, and he’s certainly helped us.”
The Nats got Lannan some run support early, which certainly didn’t hurt matters, and then gave closer Drew Storen some insurance in the ninth. That helped lock up Lannan’s fourth big league win this season, an impressive total given that he spent much of the year at Triple-A Syracuse.
“I know it’s been a tough year for him, spending most of the year in the minor leagues after being in the big leagues for so long, and it’s got to be tough, but he’s pitched some big games for us and got some big wins,” Jayson Werth said. “I think I mentioned that to him when he got sent down in spring, I said ‘You know, there’s going to come a time in this season where we’re going to need you.’
“I know it was tough on him to go down there, but he’s come through for us.”
Update: Late tonight, FoxSports.com has reported that Nationals third base coach Bo Porter will be named the new manager of the Houston Astros. The Astros have called a news conference for 10 a.m. central time tomorrow.
Porter apparently will stay with the Nationals through the course of the playoffs and then will begin his duties with the Astros. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
Usually in these situations, a team will wait until the coach they’re hiring is done with his current season before announcing the hire, but the Astros apparently want to make this news public now. This will be Porter’s first big league managerial gig.