After blowing a 9-0 lead Friday and getting shut out in the first game of the doubleheader, the Nats’ lead over the Atlanta Braves had dwindled to only 1.5 games, and it looked as though everything might fall apart. But in the nightcap, a blast from the past helped get the Nats back on track.
The Nationals’ 2009 and 2010 Opening Day starter John Lannan made his 2012 debut, holding the Braves to two runs on five hits and two walks as the offense made the most of Atlanta’s mistakes and the Nationals (54-39) came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Braves, 5-2, and snap a 3-game losing streak.
Lannan (W, 1-0) was stellar in his first start up from AAA Syracuse, where he had spent the beginning of this season, owing to the Nationals’ great depth at starting pitcher. He allowed two runs in the first inning, but quickly settled down after that, as only one Brave reached base after the third. Sean Burnett threw a perfect eighth to maintain the lead, and Tyler Clippard returned to form after three straight horrendous outings, walking only one and allowing no hits as he earned his sixteenth save of the season.
The offense did not capitalize on their own chances, going 2-12 with runners in scoring position, but made the most of the Braves’ mistakes. They were held scoreless by Braves starter Randall Delgado until the fifth, when a wild pitch allowed Danny Espinosa to score from third. Ian Desmond tied the game in the sixth with an RBI groundout with the bases loaded, and the suddenly clutch Roger Bernadina gave the Nats the lead with an RBI single to score Sandy Leon in the seventh. Bernadina played extremely well since coming in for an injured Bryce Harper in the second inning of Game 1 of the doubleheader, going a combined 5-7 with an RBI. After Espinosa’s single in the eighth scored a pinch-hitting Harper, the Nats capitalized on another Atlanta mistake, as Espinosa scored after Braves SS Paul Janish was unable to handle a routine grounder from Leon.
Champ of the Game: Lannan, who came up from the minors and promptly shut down a powerful Atlanta team.
For the Braves, Chipper Jones had an RBI double and scored a run.
Chump of the Game: Steve Lombardozzi, who went 0-3 with RISP and 0-5 overall after his 14-game hitting streak was snapped in the first game of the doubleheader
For Atlanta, Cristhian Martinez allowed the go-ahead run in the seventh and the first insurance run in the eighth and took the loss.
Unsung Hero: Bernadina, who has been a great contributor off the bench this season after struggling as a regular in the past.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman was 2-4 with an RBI, but the two players behind him in the batting order were a combined 0-5.
Next Game: Tomorrow in Washington. Jurrjens (3-3, 6.20) v. Detwiler (4-3, 3.15)