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WSH@SD: Lannan outduels Richard, earns win vs. Padres

SAN DIEGO -- The Nationals wore throwback jerseys of the 1936 Senators on Saturday at PETCO Park. Like those Senators, the Nationals played like a winning team and edged the Padres, 2-1, in front of 25,027 fans.

It was a game that saw Nationals manager Jim Riggleman make changes to the lineup. Outfielder Jayson Werth hit leadoff, pitcher John Lannan hit eighth, followed by left fielder Brian Bixler. Riggleman made the changes because the team is last in the Majors in offense.

Although the trio wasn't much of a factor in the game, the Nationals did enough to take the lead in the first inning against left-hander Clayton Richard.

Ian Desmond scored from first base on a double by Danny Espinosa. Two batters later, Wilson Ramos drove in Espinosa with a single to center field. The Nationals ended up going 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position.

"We just got [off to] kind of a rough start," Richard said. "We were able to settle down after that, but unfortunately it turned out to be a little too big of a hole."

As far as the Nationals' offense goes, Werth most likely will lead off again against the Padres on Sunday, but Riggleman seemed to have doubts that Jordan Zimmermann would bat eighth. They will face right-hander Tim Stauffer.

"I'm not sure what we will do tomorrow. It's different against the righty," Riggleman said. "It will be a little different on how we will put it together. We are thinking ahead to getting Zim [Ryan Zimmerman] back next week. We'll thinking about how we'll put it together with him, too. I'm going to give it some thought tonight."

While he didn't perform in the batter's box, Lannan did the job on the mound, allowing one run in 6 1/3 innings. It came in the second inning, when Anthony Rizzo hit his first big league homer over the right-field wall.

Lannan also dodged a bullet. It appeared that Ryan Ludwick hit a home run in the fourth inning. The ball was ruled to have hit the line representing the foul pole on a wall in the left-field stands. Nationals third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. protested, claiming the ball was foul, and Riggleman popped out of the dugout, prompting an official review by the umpiring crew. The umpires agreed with Hairston. Ludwick ended up striking out.

"I really went by Jerry Hairston's reaction," Riggleman said. "From where it bounced, it must be foul. I wasn't sure. Jerry was very adamant that it was foul. Obviously in today's world, it going to be reviewed, and we got it [reversed]."

Lannan is quietly putting together a quality season. After a slow start, he won his fourth game and has lowered his ERA to 3.60. He is looking like the pitcher who led the Nationals in innings pitched and wins in 2009.

While with Double-A Harrisburg last year, Lannan learned that he had to get back to what made him successful: pound the strike zone with his fastball and sinker.

Asked if he was back to being the pitcher that was the ace in 2009, Lannan said, "I think, over time, you change, you adapt and you learn more every day. I've grown up. A lot of things that used to get to me, don't any more. I handle myself on the mound a little better. It's just growing up."

It helps that Lannan has learned a lot from a pitching coach like Steve McCatty, who played in the Major Leagues for nine years. McCatty said Lannan has been more focused, especially in the last four games. In those four, Lannan has allowed three runs in 26 1/3 innings.

"He should have two pitches that he could throw over at any time and at any count," McCatty said. "... You have to understand what you are. He is a guy that has a good change up ... but when all else fails, you are going to go back to what you trust. You have to make pitches with it."

The Nationals trusted Lannan on Saturday and received the victory.

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