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WSH@LAD: Lannan belts a two-run shot to right field

LOS ANGELES -- For the second game in a row, left-hander John Lannan helped himself with the bat and it proved to be enough as the Nationals defeated the Dodgers, 7-2, at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

The Nationals scored early, touching home plate three times in the first two innings off right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. In the first inning, with two outs, Ryan Zimmerman singled to left field and then stole second before scoring on a double by Michael Morse.

It was all Lannan after that. With two outs in the second inning, after Ian Desmond singled, Lannan took a 1-2 pitch from Kuroda and hit the ball over the right-field fence to give Washington a 3-0 lead.

Lannan acknowledged that he was shocked by what he did.

"I just got a pitch to hit," Lannan said. "I wasn't trying to hit a home run. I was trying to put the bat on the ball and it went out. It's kind of a blur right now."

According to Lannan, the last home run he hit prior to Friday was in his hometown league in New York. He was 15 years old at the time.

"It's been awhile," he said.

Lannan hit Kuroda's slider out of the park, and that pitch proved to be a problem for Kuroda early in the game.

"My slider and my split weren't there and those are my key pitches," Kuroda said. "So that was probably the cause early in the game. I didn't have all my stuff."

After Lannan touched home plate and went into the dugout, his teammates playfully gave him the silent treatment before giving him high-fives a few seconds later. Lannan knew the silent treatment was coming.

"I tried to keep it as cool as possible, but I was worried more about pitching," Lannan said. "I kind of got away from my game plan in the middle innings, but I was able to find it toward the end."

Morse didn't even see Lannan's home run but quickly came back into the dugout once he heard the cheering in the dugout. Morse was one of the first players to give Lannan a high-five.

"It's always a plus when a pitcher is pitching a great game and also drives in runs," Morse said.

Meanwhile, back in the bullpen, Washington's relievers were talking about Lannan's homer for five straight innings.

"We were still in shock," reliever Sean Burnett said. "We were going to call down from the 'pen and ask for a curtain call. It's pretty neat anytime a pitcher hits a home run, especially John, because we gave him a hard time. But it was pretty sweet."

It was Lannan's first Major League homer and the first by a Nationals pitcher since Livan Hernandez homered on Sept. 14 against the Braves in Atlanta.

Lannan ended up going 2-for-3. It marked the second game in a row in which he collected two hits and two RBIs.

Prior to his start against the Braves last Saturday, Lannan was 0-for-32, but he earned the nickname "Long-Ball Lannan" after recently hitting a home run during batting practice. What has changed for Lannan at the plate in his last two games?

"I'm trying to feel something [at the plate]," Lannan said. "[Hitting coach Rick Eckstein] has done a great job of helping us get out there when we can to get hitting on the field and in the cages -- not only with hitting, but with bunting, too. He really helps us out -- trying to build off something."

The Nationals added to their lead in the top of the ninth inning when Jerry Hairston hit a grand slam off right-hander Matt Guerrier to give Washington a five-run cushion.

"That's our version of a laugher," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "We play a one-run game until the ninth inning and then score four runs. That's a laugher for us."

On the mound, Lannan lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowed two runs -- one earned -- on three hits, struck out a season-high six and walked four. The two runs were scored in the fourth inning. Juan Uribe hit a ball that went past Desmond for an error, which allowed Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera to score. It was the first of two errors Desmond made in the inning.

After the Lannan left the game, Washington's bullpen -- Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen -- blanked Los Angeles the rest of the way.

But nothing could overshadow the performance of Lannan, who helped himself on the mound and with the bat.

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