Lannan, bats lead Nationals over Phillies

Washington reduces magic number for division title to 4

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But they never would have had their opportunities to lock down the Nationals' 94th win of the season were it not for Lannan’s early work. In his fifth major league start of the season, Lannan kept the Phillies at bay over 5⅓ innings. He allowed five hits, two runs, walked one and struck out three.

He gave the Nationals all they needed on a night when Kyle Kendrick was serving up home runs with regularity. As the Nationals took the field for afternoon batting practice, rain began to fall. The grounds crew rolled out the tarp before they’d had a chance to take a single swing. In the dugout, their manager shrugged. “Save ‘em for the game,” said Davey Johnson.

So they did. The Nationals had a 5-0 lead before Lannan came to the plate in the second inning. They used Citizens Bank Park for what it is, a place where the ball flies, and made up for their homerless series opener on Tuesday night.

First it was 19-year-old Bryce Harper, hitting the 20th of his rookie season into the left center field seats before many of the fans had settled into theirs. The first pitch he saw, and the sixth pitch Kendrick threw, put the Nationals up 2-0 early.

Ian Desmond opened the second with his 25th of the season and Kurt Suzuki followed two batters later with his fifth, a two-run shot that would give the Nationals just enough offense to hold off the Phillies‘ late charge.

“I’ve always come [to Philadelphia] and thought I’ve pitched well, but some stuff didn’t go my way,” Lannan said. “But tonight I told myself I wasn’t going to let that kind of stuff happen. … I knew this was a big win for the team.”

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