- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 13, 2008

As mad as John Lannan was at himself for the way he pitched yesterday, the Washington Nationals left-hander was more upset at the reason why he pitched the way he did.

“The game plan, I just went way away from it,” he said. “I’m going to have days when I’m going to get hit, and I know that. But it’s the mental part where you’re not following what we talked about. That’s what I’m upset about what happened today.”

Lannan surrendered six runs on nine hits and four walks in four innings in the Nationals’ 10-2 loss to the visiting Atlanta Braves. He endured through a nightmarish first inning, allowing four runs only five batters into the game and putting his teammates into a huge hole.

“At a point today, it felt like a snowball effect,” the 23-year-old said. “I just kind of lost trust in my pitches.”

Lannan (0-2, 6.75 ERA in two starts) felt he should have trusted the plan pitching coach Randy St. Claire established before the game.

Nationals manager Manny Acta would have liked to see Lannan hit his target with more regularity.

“He was just unable to throw strikes or locate his pitches at all,” Acta said. “He was missing the target by a couple of feet. That’s what the young man does best. He couldn’t do it today. It just put us behind the 8-ball.”

Good neighbors

The Nationals’ charitable organization announced plans yesterday to create partnerships with the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Hopkins Branch and the Earth Conservation Corps, a pair of groups based near Nationals Park.

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation will donate $50,000 so the Hopkins Branch, the only chapter of the local Boys and Girls Club located within a public housing project, can hire a teen director. The baseball franchise intends to develop a long-term relationship with the club.

The Dream Foundation also will issue a $40,000 grant for each of the next three years to the Earth Conservation Corps, a nonprofit youth development and environmental service organization next to the Anacostia River.

Those two organizations will be lumped together as the primary beneficiaries of the Nationals’ “Neighborhood Initiative,” which seeks to create strong bonds with businesses and residents of the area around the new ballpark.

“We’re going to be here for a long time,” foundation chairwoman Marla Lerner Tannenbaum said. “These are going to be our neighbors. We’re going to see them change. We’re going to change. I just think it’s critically important. Everybody on the team and my family, they all felt this is the most crucial initiative.”

Extra bases

Ryan Zimmerman snapped out of his 0-for-16 slump with an infield single in the first inning and a double in the fifth. The third baseman’s batting average dropped to .191 entering the game.

“I definitely felt better today,” he said. …

Shawn Hill flew to Charlotte, N.C., last night in preparation for today’s rehab start will Class AAA Columbus. Hill, on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right forearm, could join Washington’s rotation in time for Friday’s game at Florida. …

Reliever Jon Rauch was not available to pitch yesterday after his wife Erica gave birth to the couple’s second child Friday.

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