- The Washington Times - Friday, August 3, 2012

The Nationals kicked off their doubleheader with a 7-4 victory over the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon.

After a rocky start for left-hander John Lannan, he cruised into the seventh inning and the Nationals offense gave him an early lead that proved to be enough despite squandered chances late.

Lannan, up from Triple-A for the day as the 26th man, gave up a run on two hits and three walks through the first eight batters. But he settled in after that, retiring 13 of the 14 batters he faced from the third through the sixth inning.

“[I was] just trying to get into the rhythm of things,” said Lannan. “When I got the double play [in the first inning], I felt a little bit better.”

Lannan gave up two runs — one off a wild pitch — after holding the Marlins scoreless for six innings. He was pulled by manager Davey Johnson after facing three batters in the seventh, finishing with three earned runs on four hits and five walks.

“I’ve got to get rid of those walks,” said Lannan. “Five walks is too much.”

“I thought he ran out of gas a little bit and I didn’t get to him quite in time,” said Johnson. “He made a big boost for us. He’s had a rough year having to go down [to Triple-A Syracuse] … but he’ll be back up here soon.”

The star on offense was Adam LaRoche, although the entire offense took advantage of Marlins starter Brad Hand. LaRoche hit his 21st home run of the season, a solo shot to center field in the third inning to add to his three-hit day. He drove in three runs with the homer, a double and a single.

His play of the game came in the second inning on defense, however. Instead of catching Hand’s muffed bunt, he allowed it to drop, then turned it into a double play by throwing to third for the first out, with Ryan Zimmerman tossing it to second for the inning’s final out.

Even Lannan was fooled by LaRoche’s play, but praised him for it.

“He said, ‘I got it’ and when someone says I got it, you get out of the way,” said Lannan. “He almost took my head off with that throw, but I tried to just get out of the way.”

Seven of the Nationals’ nine starters had at least one hit against Marlins left-hander Hand, who had a dismal game after giving up all seven of the Nationals runs. He was yanked after 3 2/3 innings. Hand also walked six batters — one intentionally in the fourth inning —  and struck out three.

Two of the runs Hand gave up came from bases loaded walks, which brought the Marlins season total to 13, tied with the San Diego Padres for most in Major League Baseball.

In the top of the eighth inning, the Nationals faced a bases loaded situation with Drew Storen on the mound. After striking out the first batter, he gave up a double and walked the next two batters. The Nats wiggled out of the jam, though, as Storen struck out the next batter, and reliever Michael Gonzalez fanned Bryan Peterson. 

“Storen’s ball was moving everywhere … I didn’t want to do what I had to do there,” Johnson said, forced to go to his closer, Tyler Clippard, eventually to finish the game off. “But with him, I also didn’t want [Storen] to throw too many pitches coming off that injury.”

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