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Nix's full-extension grab keeps Nats ahead

WASHINGTON -- Just as that punched-in-the-face feeling arrived for Laynce Nix, seconds after manager Jim Riggleman was sure the ball would drop and everything went into slow motion for John Lannan, the left fielder realized he made the catch on a drive from pinch-hitter Dominic Brown.

Nix trekked what seemed like miles across the Nationals Park outfield into no-man's land, where he fully extended to make a diving catch and preserve the lead he provided Lannan on Wednesday.

Nix homered in the third, then saved runs with his bases-loaded catch in the sixth inning of Washington's 2-1 win over Philadelphia in front of 24,2495.

"I'm running the whole time, the ball's a long way from me, and it slices back at the right time. It would be easy for that ball to go off my glove and anything to happen at that time," Nix said. "By the time it hit my glove and I heard the crowd, I knew."

It was the most difficult way for Lannan to earn his first win against the Phillies, who handed him a loss in 10 of his previous 14 tries. The left-hander pitched into the sixth but put two men on base before giving way to the bullpen.

Todd Coffey walked Jimmy Rollins to load the bases and gave way to lefty Doug Slaten to face Brown, called on to pinch-hit for Phillies starter Roy Oswalt.

"That's a Gold Glove-type play, especially in that situation," Brown said. "How they had me played, I thought it was going to fall in because I knew [center fielder Roger] Bernadina was shaded over to the pull side. I knew he didn't have a chance."

Entering the game with a 6.44 career ERA against the Phillies (34-22), it would be easy to think Lannan did not have a chance against the National League East-leading club.

"I thought we were going to score some runs on him, if you want to know the truth," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "He was throwing us all changeups and slow stuff, and we weren't waiting on him and we weren't taking him the other way."

But the only time Lannan said he thought about his struggles against the Phillies -- which began with two hit batters and an ejection in his Major League debut -- was when asked by the media.

He lasted 5 1/3 innings to give Washington (24-31) the series victory, stranding five runners on base and allowing just one unearned run.

"I've pitched better against them, but I limited the damage [today] and sometimes that's all you need to do," Lannan said. "A win is always good, but to do it against a club like that -- especially when I'm pitching -- I guess I got that monkey off my back."

The Nationals gave Lannan an early lead on an RBI single by Jayson Werth in the first, but he lost that the following inning on an Alex Cora error.

Ryan Howard doubled to start the second and third baseman Cora, who left after the fourth with stomach issues, could not handle the hop off a Carlos Ruiz grounder and let the ball bounce past him for the unearned run.

But Lannan recovered, and quickly regained the lead on Nix's solo homer in the third. Although Nix splits time in the outfield with Rick Ankiel, Bernadina and Brian Bixler, the long ball was his third in his past four starts and gave him nine on the year, which ranks second on the team.

"He's finally getting a chance to play every day and show what he can do," Werth said. "In this game, opportunities don't come too easily, and when you get them you have to make the most of them. He's definitely making the most of an opportunity right here."

Lannan made the most of his opportunity, as well, finally beating Philly, with help from Nix.

"I feel good for John," said manager Jim Riggleman. "I think he had a few no-decisions over the years against Philadelphia that maybe could've gone his way. That could've been a no-decision today."

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