The Washington Times - July 4, 2009, 06:04PM

Good Fourth of July all around at Nationals Park. John Lannan pitched eight sterling innings. Adam Dunn smashed his 300th career homer. The Nats rallied to score four runs in the eighth and beat the Braves, 5-3. Oh, and Jesus Colome is no longer on the roster.

Let’s start with that roster move. Colome was designated for assignment after the game, a move that was long overdue and wasn’t surprising to anyone. Colome had an 8.40 ERA and probably was pitching even worse than the numbers indicated. To replace him, the club has recalled Jason Bergmann from Syracuse for like the 27th time this season. No, actually it’s only the third time. It just feels like more. Bergmann, as he has all season, was pitching very well at Syracuse, with a 1.16 ERA overall and zero runs allowed since he was sent down last month. He’ll be in uniform for tomorrow’s game.


As for Lannan, the young lefty really is establishing himself as the ace of this pitching staff and one of the most reliable starters in baseball. He went eight innings today, gave up three runs and was rewarded with his sixth win thanks to the late rally. Over his last six starts now, Lannan is 4-0 with a 2.40 ERA. Probably too late to earn him an All-Star berth, but he’s certainly earned the praise of his teammates, who desperately wanted to reward him with a win today.

“Everybody did,” manager Manny Acta said. “He’s a very likable kid and a big part of our future here. Just the way he went out there, got in trouble, got himself out of trouble. Just pitched extremely well. We felt, ‘Man, we don’t want to waste this eight-inning outing here, the way this guy has pitched.’ We got him a win. That was outstanding.”

Lannan has now pitched into the eighth inning in four of his last six starts. That workhorse mentality is big for him.

“I don’t consider myself an ace by any means. But I mean, that’s what an ace does,” he said. “You have to go deeper into ballgames. That’s part of my progression in this game, and my learning experience. Last year, it was five or six innings. This year, I’m looking toward the eighth and ninth. My workout regimen’s gotten a lot stronger. I’m working out harder during the week and I’m feeling much stronger in the later innings. Instead of feeling weak in the sixth, I’m feeling strong. That’s getting me over the hump.”

As for Dunn’s milestone homer, it landed well up in Section 239 down the right-field line. They don’t estimate distances here, but I’ve got to think it was at least 430 feet, maybe more. Dunn was happy to talk about the homer and the very nice fan who caught the ball and offered it back for nothing. But I think this response from the slugger says a lot about him and what’s truly important.

“I would give back every single home run if we could be whatever our record is, flip-flopped,” he said. “And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. Winning is everything in this game, period.”

So the biggest development today was the four-run rally in the eighth. Trailing 3-1 at the time, the Nats got productive plate appearances from seven straight batters. Yes, seven…

Ronnie Belliard: Single to left

Josh Bard: Walk

Nyjer Morgan: Sac bunt

Nick Johnson: Walk

Ryan Zimmerman: 2-run single

Adam Dunn: RBI single

Josh Willingham: RBI single

That’s how you put together a game-winning rally.

“It’s not like we sat back and waited for someone to hit a five-run home run,” Bard said. “If we want to be a winning team, those are the kind of innings we’ve got to put together.”