There have been few, if any, teams that have given John Lannan as much trouble as the Phillies. It began with his first career start, when he hit Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and got ejected from the game. In the next 15 starts were short outings, blown leads, walks homers and even more losses.
Headed into Wednesday's game in Philadelphia, Lannan had a 1-12 record and a 5.81 ERA in 16 games against the Phillies, having lost more than twice as many games against them as he had against any other team. So it's fitting that Lannan euthanized another source of frustration - his four-year quest to get to double-digit wins - with a win in Philadelphia.
His start wasn't his best work (he gave up three runs on eight hits in five innings), and it didn't come against the Phillies at their nastiest (Ryan Howard was out of the lineup). But Lannan worked through an efficient start, throwing 76 pitches in five innings while using a breaking ball just 10 times and walking just one batter.
With his win, the Nationals have won nine of their last 11 games, and their starting pitchers have claimed six victories in that stretch, including four straight. They'll go for a series sweep tomorrow with Brad Peacock on the mound, but they've already guaranteed a split of the season series with the Phillies for the first time since 2006, and they won for the 75th time this year. Even though the Phillies have little to play for, the Nationals' starters are still getting them out, and it's helping push the team closer and closer to respectability.
Finally on Wednesday night, Lannan was a contributor to that effort in Philadelphia. And he put down two demons in the process.