- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2009

PHILADELPHIA | John Lannan is not a power pitcher. He knows he’s not a power pitcher. He tells himself not to be a power pitcher.

Sometimes, though, the Washington Nationals left-hander gets out of his game, tries to become something he’s not and pays the price for it.

Lannan did just that Sunday in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, a ballgame in which the 24-year-old struck out seven batters but walked four and had to be pulled after only five innings because his pitch count was a whopping 106.

“Strikeouts, I really don’t care about,” he said. “Walks, I care about. I shouldn’t be walking that many guys.”

Lannan, Washington’s Opening Day starter and de facto ace, hasn’t won since May 9 and is 2-5 with a 4.21 ERA. He was victimized by some shaky defense behind him Sunday - though all three runs he allowed were earned - but afterward was more interested in figuring out how to get back to his usual strategy of throwing the ball over the plate and forcing batters to hit into outs.

“I’m an early contact [pitcher],” he said. “When I’m going good, it’s usually three pitches to a batter. I really don’t go that deep [in the count]. I’ve got to start getting earlier contact and go deeper in ballgames.”

Power but no RBI

Josh Willingham belted two home runs in Sunday’s loss, raising his season total to nine, the third most on the club behind Adam Dunn’s 16 and Ryan Zimmerman’s 11.

Amazingly, Willingham has driven in only 12 runs all season. All nine of his homers have been solo shots.

“I wish a couple of them could be three-run [homers], but it is what it is,” he said. “Maybe I’ll hit a single with someone in scoring position on Tuesday.”

Despite the lack of RBI, Willingham has been hitting the ball with more authority the past three weeks. He has posted a .308 batting average with seven homers in his past 20 games, raising his season average from .174 to .252 and seizing the everyday left fielder’s job.

“He continues to hit the ball well; he had two home runs today,” manager Manny Acta said. “It’s just unfortunate that every one of them have been solo homers. It’s kind of odd, but he’s swinging the bat good.”

Cheers to Moyer

Ageless Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer notched his 250th career win Sunday with six sparkling innings. The 46-year-old became only the 44th pitcher in baseball history to reach that milestone and only the 11th lefty.

Moyer’s teammates congratulated him with a champagne toast following Sunday’s game, but he wasn’t really in a celebratory mood.

“It’s not about the personal things; I’m more excited about us winning,” he said. “I really haven’t thought about it. It takes so much effort to prepare and play. I was taught to play the game as a team, not as an individual. When you play 20-some years, some of these things can happen.”

Washington will get another crack at preventing a veteran left-hander from reaching a major milestone Wednesday when the Giants’ Randy Johnson goes for career win No. 300 at Nationals Park.

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