The Washington Times - September 25, 2009, 10:54PM

In today’s sophisticated world of statistical analysis, even the most weathered baseball purists know wins and losses aren’t necessarily the best way to measure a pitcher’s worth. Yet there’s still a badge of honor about winning so many games, with plateaus arriving in groupings of five or 10.

John Lannan had a chance to hit one of those plateaus on Friday night, just as he did last weekend in New York. And he turned in seven strong innings both times. Both times, he took losses, and he remains stuck on nine wins.


Friday’s came in a 4-1 defeat against the Atlanta Braves, during which Lannan went seven innings without an earned run but was burned by a few fielding miscues and a Nationals offense that could do little against Braves starter Javier Vazquez, who strolled through nine innings in just 104 pitches, giving up one run on three hits.

Lannan said all the right things afterward, focusing on his strong finish to the year that will put him over 200 innings when he makes his final start of the season against the Mets on Wednesday.

“It’s not disappointing,” Lannan said Friday. “I didn’t let it get to me, because there’s been plenty of times where I didn’t have my best day, and they’ve picked me up.”

But the Nationals knew they missed a chance to reward their No. 1 starter. Josh Willingham lost a ball in the lights in the frist inning, and two batters later, Pete Orr made an error that allowed a run to score.

“I don’t want to make excuses, but we’re in a little funk here where if it can go wrong, it’s going to go wrong,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “Willingham never saw the ball. He’s lucky he didn’t get hit with it. That’s happened a couple nights in a row, and I don’t care how it’s written, how it’s portrayed, that’s a fact. … You’ve got a bullet at Orr. He’s a good second baseman. He gives you 100 percent effort. That’s a tough play. Is it an error? Yeah. But we’ve all seen that ball go through.”

Riggleman said he felt terrible that the Nationals couldn’t get the win for Lannan, and acknowledged it was part of the reason he left Lannan in the game to throw a career-high 122 pitches. But the Nationals never had much of a shot after the Braves’ two first-inning runs.

That’s all from here. It’s a 1:05 start tomorrow—Garrett Mock against Tommy Hanson. Talk to you then.