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Lannan hits a two-run single up the middle

ATLANTA -- Left-hander John Lannan and catcher Wilson Ramos drove in a combined five runs as the Nationals defeated the Braves, 5-2, at Turner Field on Saturday night.

After watching his team get embarrassed the previous night by making five errors and losing, 11-1, manager Davey Johnson felt the Nationals would come back and beat starter Tommy Hanson on Saturday. Johnson felt the great character on the Nationals would help them prevail.

"You are never as bad as you look when you lose, especially when you lose like we did the other day," Johnson said. "You just brush it off and you can't wait for the next day. We played an outstanding game [Saturday]. It was the Braves who made the errors. That's baseball."

Lannan and Ramos went to work on Hanson in the second inning. Ramos hit a ground-rule double, which scored Michael Morse. After Ian Desmond walked to load the bases, Lannan singled up the middle to score Rick Ankiel and Ramos to make it a 3-0 game. It was Lannan's first hit of the season after 32 at-bats. For Lannan, it was like taking the monkey off his back.

"We have been taking a lot of BP. I have been struggling out there," Lannan said. "I never was a really good hitter. Some days, I get good pitches to hit and I was able to hit it back up the middle. ... Every starter up here is difficult to hit. Nothing more special about it. I got some fastballs to hit. I was able to make contact to get it through the infield.

"I want to help the team as much as possible, so those two runs definitely helped. You have to take pride in your bunting, your hitting, especially as a pitcher in the National League. Hopefully, it's a start of something that I can help the team out every five days."

Lannan also showed there were no ill effects after being hit in the face by a line drive off the bat of Rockies infielder Ty Wigginton last week. Lannan lasted 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on five hits. His only blemish came in the second inning, when Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run homer to cut the lead to 3-2.

Lannan said the All-Star break helped him get over the hit to the face.

"I was trying to get past last Friday, and that was main thing. I felt comfortable out there," Lannan said. "I didn't have my sinker location like I wanted it. My offspeed pitches were helping me out a little bit.

"[The accident] is going to be there every once in a while, but I have to go out there, face the fear, and know that it was a freak accident, and just go out there and trust my stuff."

It was all Nationals after the Gonzalez homer. In the sixth inning, Ramos increased Washington's lead with a two-run homer to left off Hanson.

"We are used to one-run leads, but that was big. That made us all feel a lot easier," Johnson said about the Ramos home run. "He is a great young catcher. He is looking good."

After Ryan Mattheus and Tyler Clippard combined to record seven outs following Lannan's departure, Drew Storen recorded the final three outs for his 24th save of the season.

The Nationals are now back at the .500 mark with a 47-47 record, and find themselves eight games behind the Braves in Wild Card standings.

"Any time you go to a place on the road, you want to take the series, especially against these guys," Lannan said. "I think the middle game is important, but I think tomorrow is just as important. We have to get past [the .500 mark]. We have been tinkering with it for the last couple of weeks. We have a great enough ball team to finally get past that."

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