John on the spot: Lannan comes up big in Game 1

John on the spot: Lannan comes up big in Game 1

John on the spot: Lannan comes up big in Game 1
WASHINGTON -- Left-hander John Lannan started his second big league game of the season and was solid as the Nationals defeated the Marlins in a first game of a doubleheader, 7-4, at Nationals Park on Friday afternoon.

Lannan's outing was similar to his first one against the Braves two weeks ago, in which he was also recalled to start one game of a twin bill. Lannan got off to a slow start in the first inning Friday. After three batters, Miami had the bases loaded with no outs. Carlos Lee came to the plate and hit into a double play, but Emilio Bonifacio scored on the play to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead.

After that, Lannan would retire 17 of the next 20 hitters he faced. He was charged with two runs in the seventh inning, after he exited.

"The last two times I've been up here, it has been a slow start, but ... you really have to give yourself a chance and pitch to contact," Lannan said. "After we were able to get the double play, I felt a little bit better. I have to get rid of those walks. Five walks are too much. I have to get to pitching to contact."

Lannan was realistic about what was going to happen to him after the doubleheader. He was optioned back to Triple-A Syracuse to try to work on his control. Before the promotion, Lannan was 6-10 with a 5.24 ERA for Syracuse. Just last year, he was Washington's top pitcher, but he lost his job to Ross Detwiler at the end of Spring Training and was optioned to Syracuse. He requested to be traded, but the Nationals haven't come close to making a deal.

Lannan is expected to be in the Major Leagues later in the season. It would not come as a surprise if Lannan replaced Stephen Strasburg in the rotation after Strasburg reaches his innings limit. Strasburg has an innings limit of 160 innings, but it could be moved up to 180 innings.

"I wish I could stay up here, but I know the deal. I have to go back down there and keep on working," Lannan said.

The Nationals were able to take the lead by scoring three runs off left-hander Brad Hand in the bottom of the first inning. Adam LaRoche, who continued his hot hitting by going 3-for-3, had an RBI single, while Mark DeRosa had a two-run single.

Two innings later, LaRoche hit a 3-1 pitch over the center-field wall to give Washington a three-run cushion.

Hand suddenly couldn't find the plate in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded, he walked LaRoche, scoring Danny Espinosa. It was Hand's sixth and final walk of the game. Reliever Ryan Webb then entered the game and allowed an infield single to Tyler Moore. That allowed Ryan Zimmerman to score.

DeRosa then came to the plate and picked up his third RBI of the game when he walked, allowing Jayson Werth to score.

After Lannan left the game in the seventh inning, manager Davey Johnson used four different pitchers before Tyler Clippard saved his 22nd game of the season.

The Nationals are now 21 games over .500 with a 63-42 record.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.