The Washington Times - August 31, 2011, 03:43PM

ATLANTA — The Nationals broke out in a big way Tuesday night, but, in truth, for it to mean anything they’ll have to continue that success on Wednesday against sinkerballer Derek Lowe with a chance to take the series from the Braves.

The Nationals have, for lack of a better word, owned the Braves recently. The Braves have lost 24 of the last 35 contests to the Nationals, Tuesday’s 9-2 blowout included. The Nationals have a track record of tailing off down the stretch — as an infusion of prospects, along with the realization that they’re playing out a string can tend to set in. That’s not what they’re hoping for this season with a potential winning record still well within their reach.


Nationals manager Davey Johnson, for one, doesn’t see it happening this year.

“I see a lot of signs,” Johnson said Tuesday night. “I feel the offense going, I feel the pitching staff coming together, I like the signs. The record doesn’t show it. Since I’ve been here, the records worse than it was before I got here… But I really like the way things are going.

“We’re in a period now where we’re kind of getting some guys in different positions, some other guys are coming up, but the main body of guys have really hung in there and kept battling. It’s fun to watch. I’ve heard talk in the past that there’s a let down in the second half. I don’t see that. I see actually growing. I see the effort. We’ve opened some eyes around the league. A lot of guys I’ve been talking to really like the ballclub. And I said, ‘I like it more than you do.’”

They’ll get some of all of that (out of position players, young guys) tonight against Lowe with John Lannan (who is 3-0 with a 3.09 ERA vs. the Braves this season) on the mound. Jayson Werth moves into center field for the second time this season, Laynce Nix plays right for the second straight day with Michael Morse in left and Chris Marrero gets his third start at first base. Wilson Ramos, who was sick yesterday, is out of the lineup again.

Here are the full lineups behind Lowe and Lannan:


Ian Desmond SS
Jayson Werth CF
Ryan Zimmerman 3B
Michael Morse LF
Laynce Nix RF
Danny Espinosa 2B
Chirs Marrero 1B
Jesus Flores C
John Lannan P 


Michael Bourn CF
Martin Prado LF
Brian McCann C
Dan Uggla 2B
Chipper Jones 3B
Matt Diaz RF
Freddie Freeman 1B
Alex Gonzalez SS
Derek Lowe P