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Johnson was not available for comment Sunday and would not be returning calls, a team spokesman said. He was scheduled to join the team later for the flight to Los Angeles.

Johnson managed the Mets, Dodgers, Reds and Orioles over 14 seasons and compiled a 1,148-888 record. Eleven of his teams finished first or second.

Even though he hasn’t managed in the majors for 11 years, Johnson did skipper Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and 2008 Olympics. Two summers ago, he managed amateur players in a Florida collegiate league.

Rizzo said he talked with several other people about the job but did not formally interview them because Johnson was easily his first choice after Riggleman bolted.

“When we got the news, you automatically go into ‘Plan B’ mode and try to think outside the box,” Rizzo said. “We had to make decisions rationally and clearly, but quickly. We were fortunate to have such a clear-cut and easy alternative right there.”

Riggleman resigned abruptly Thursday after the Nationals beat Seattle, unhappy that Rizzo declined to have a conversation about picking up his option for 2012. The departure was stunning for its timing: Including Sunday’s victory, the Nationals have won 13 of their last 15 games.

It was the second time in a week an NL East manager resigned and was replaced. Florida skipper Edwin Rodriguez quit last Sunday _ under much different circumstances with the Marlins struggling _ and was replaced by 80-year-old Jack McKeon.

Now, Johnson will return to a team that has played well lately and has a bright future with a young star in 18-year-old Bryce Harper, who is tearing up Class-A ball, and with 22-year-old right-hander Stephen Strasburg expected to recover from elbow surgery.

“It’s perfect. He’s a great manager and he’s got a lot of history,” Livan Hernandez, Sunday’s winning pitcher, said of Johnson. “He wins the World Series in ‘86 with the Mets. We are going to have a different manager tomorrow. We are going to miss McLaren, too. … We got to continue to play good.”

Drew Storen, the Nationals’ 23-year-old closer, said he was looking forward to working with Johnson.

“He’s a great baseball man with a great track record. I’m not too familiar with him as a manager, but I just know he’s a great baseball guy,” Storen said. “I’m excited to see what he can do with us.”

McLaren cited Johnson’s passion for the game and wished him well.

“I know they’ve got great vision here. I know Davey Johnson is gonna do a great job here,” McLaren said.

Before the game, McLaren met with Nationals players in groups to tell them about his future.

“I didn’t want them to not hear it from me,” McLaren said. “I feel bad about Jim Riggleman. It’s a tough situation for everybody. He’s a good friend. I wish it hadn’t gone down like this, but it did and I think we’ll move on.”