Helped out by all sorts of double plays and supported by three home runs, John Lannan threw his first career complete game Saturday night to lead the Washington Nationals to a 7-1 victory over the New York Mets.
Lannan (3-5) allowed an unearned run and four hits, facing the minimum number of batters through the first seven innings. He was helped out by a franchise-record-tying five double plays -- two 6-4-3s, two 4-6-3s and a head-shaking 9-3-6 that took a while to sort out.
Adam Dunn, Elijah Dukes and Nick Johnson homered for the Nationals, who had lost three straight and nine of 10. Dunn is the only player in the majors with more home runs (17) than his team has victories (15).
Washington chased John Maine (5-4) before he could record an out in the fifth inning of a game that lasted just 2 hours. Lannan needed only 96 pitches, including 61 strikes, to finish.
Lannan gave the Nationals their third complete game of the season, the type of pitching performance desperately needed by a last-place team that started the day with a worst-in-majors 5.61 ERA. In fact, for one night at least, all seemed right at Nationals Park: The weather was splendid after a solid week of rain that played havoc with the schedule, and the crowd of 31,456 made the stadium feel lively for one of the few times this season.
Dunn's homer in the three-run first inning got the fans buzzing. Dukes' shot in the fourth and Johnson's drive in the three-run fifth only added to the fun, but the wackiest moment came in the fourth on the unusual double play.
With Luis Castillo on first, Emil Brown hit a drive to right field. Dukes made a sliding stab to scoop the ball, with the umpire ruling it a trap. Castillo, however, thought the ball had been caught and headed back to first. Brown whizzed passed Castillo on the basepaths and told his teammate to head back toward second base. By that time, Dukes had made a throw while on his back to the first baseman, who then threw to the shortstop for the forceout. Brown was then called out because he had passed a runner.
After that sequence, it's little wonder Lannan made sure he didn't let anyone else on base again for a long while. He retired the next 11 batters before giving up back-to-back singles in the eighth. Dukes then flubbed Omir Santos' flair to right for an error that allowed David Wright to score.
Maine allowed seven runs and six hits -- including all three homers -- in his shortest outing of the season.
With the loss, the Mets fell to 29-25 on the year, and are three games back of the first place Phillies.