WASHINGTON (AP)—Nationals manager Manny Acta sure expects a lot from 23-year-old rookie John Lannan.
Consider Lannan had just thrown seven shutout innings in Washington’s 2-0 win over the Chicago Cubs on Suday. What did Acta say? “I’ve seen him better.”
Lannan (2-2) pitched four-hit ball in matching a career high for innings and extending his scoreless innings streak to 19. He lowered his ERA to 2.64 as the Nationals bounced back from a 7-0 loss to the Cubs Saturday. The left-hander struck out three, walked four and didn’t allow a hit until Ronny Cedeno singled to start the fifth.
“I’ve seen him better, but he showed me a lot today by being able to make pitches when he had to,” Acta said. “He had the ability to make good pitches and not allow any runs. That shows a lot for a kid that age.”
The left-hander was making just his 11th career start and had to work out of some tough situations, especially when Chicago threatened in the fifth and sixth innings. But Lannan kept his poise and escaped trouble.
“I’ve been taught (that) instead of going hard, to take a step back and really make quality pitches and not try to overpower somebody,” Lannan said. “You’ve got to forget what happened in the past. You’ve got to work hard on what you’ve got going on right now.”
Lannan also credited catcher Wil Nieves for helping him.
Nieves was behind the plate for Lannan’s three most recent starts, including seven shutout innings against the Braves on April 22.
“It just seems like I’ve been catching him for a long time,” Nieves said. “He just seems like he knows what he’s doing out there, and he’s confident.”
Lilly (1-4), making his 200th start, gave up two runs on four hits in six innings, with most of his trouble coming in the second inning when Wily Mo Pena and Nieves had back-to-back RBI singles. Washington got only one hit the rest of the game.
Nick Johnson started the second-inning rally with a leadoff single. Lastings Milledge moved Johnson to second with a sacrifice, and Pena brought him in two batters later with a two-out single to left.
Pena went to second on the throw home and scored on Nieves’ single.
Chicago missed scoring chances in the fifth and sixth. The Cubs loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Ryan Theriot grounded into a double play.
They put runners at second and third with one out in the sixth, but Lannan then got Mark DeRosa and Cedeno to ground out. The Cubs put runners on in seven of the nine innings and stranded eight.
“We didn’t score many runs,” Chicago manager Lou Piniella said. “When you don’t score many runs, it really increases the other team’s chances of winning— and that’s exactly what happened here.”
Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman made his 200th consecutive start, now the second-longest in the majors as Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore (382, first) sat out Sunday with an ankle injury. … The victory gave the Nationals their first home-series win this season as they took two of three from the Cubs. … Cedeno now has hits in seven of his last eight games.