After the Nationals got thumped 11-1 by the Braves in their first game of the second half, they were in a precarious position on Saturday: They needed to get themselves back to .500 against a team that's been tough to beat at home this season and a formidable starter (Atlanta's Tommy Hanson) and they needed to solve what went wrong for them in their ugly five-error performance Friday.
They snapped back to form Saturday night, with a solid performance from John Lannan and an impressive defensive performance - especially from shortstop Ian Desmond - and they evened their record with a 5-2 win over the Braves.
Davey Johnson meets with the media to discuss the Nats' 5-2 victory over the Braves
Lannan allowed two runs in 5 2/3 innings and Desmond, who made an error last night, finished the game with two impressive plays, throwing on the run to nip Jason Heyward and Alex Gonzales.
And Lannan, who hadn't had a hit all season, went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs. He came back from his last start, where he got hit in the face with a line drive, to get his seventh career win against the Braves. He's now got a 3.24 ERA against them.
Catcher Wilson Ramos had a homer and drove in three runs. He went deep off Hanson in the sixth, a two-run shot, his ninth homer of the season.
Things won't be easy for the Nationals tomorrow; they face All-Star Jair Jurrjens, whose 1.87 ERA leads the National League. But they needed to rebound quickly to keep themselves around .500 and not allow the Braves to begin applying a chokehold to their flickering playoff hopes. With strong pitching and defense, they did it on Saturday.