PHILADELPHIA – Phillies starting pitcher John Lannan pitched so well Monday night it didn’t matter who he faced.
Lannan delivered one of the best outings of his career and it came against his former team – the Washington Nationals.
He allowed no runs and four hits in eight innings as the Phillies beat the Nationals 3-2 before 33,061 fans at Citizens Bank Park.
The results are what thrilled him. That they came against the Nationals was a positive coincidence.
“I’m pretty sure this is going to feel pretty good,” Lannan said. “Anytime you go eight shutout innings it feels good.”
But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel admitted he would have had a more demonstrative reaction to beating his former team.
“I might be jumping up and down,” Manuel said.
The Phillies (44-46) have won two straight, five-of-seven and are now 3-1 on this pivotal 10-game homestand that will go a long way toward determining if they are legitimate playoff contenders. Ben Revere sparked the Phillies' offense Monday. He scored two runs and went 3-for-5 to raise his season average to .300.
Lannan pitched for the Nationals from 2007-2012. Washington chose not to offer him a contract after he spent most of 2012 in the minor leagues. The Phillies signed the 28-year-old as a free agent in December.
Monday was the second time Lannan started against his former team. He started against Washington on June 17, allowing two runs in five innings for a no decision.
Lannan said he learned from that start how to pitch against the Nationals.
“You watch them, but you really don’t know (how to pitch to them) until you face them,” he said.
On Monday, Lannan shutdown the Nationals. No Washington player reached second base in his eight innings. Lannan struck out four but got 12 groundball outs – seven of them to second baseman Chase Utley.
“I was about to fall asleep out there,” Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown said.
Lannan said he has to get groundball outs to be successful because he doesn’t have the pitches to consistently strike out hitters. He threw mostly two-seam fastballs and changeups.
“I stayed down in the zone,” he said. “That’ what I try to do. I’m not a strikeout guy.”
Phillies fans gave Lannan a standing ovation after he struck out Ian Desmond to end the top of the eighth inning.
It was his best start as a Phillie and the best of his career since he shutout the New York Mets 4-0 on July 21, 2009.
Lannan said he didn’t begin the game with any extra motivation because he was pitching against the Nationals. He told himself it was like any other start.
“At this point, I’m just looking for consistency,” said Lannan, who is 2-3 with a 4.23 ERA. “It didn’t really matter who I was facing. I had to go out there and throw up some zeros. I really haven’t done that all year.”
Philadelphia led 2-0 after the first inning. Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins began the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles. They pulled off a double steal of third and second base and later scored.
Revere and Rollins provided the Phillies with another run in the bottom of the sixth inning. Revere doubled with two outs and scored on Rollins single. Revere dove across home plate just head of the throw from Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth.
Lannan is 2-1 in his last three starts. He allowed a run in seven innings in beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 16-1 on June 28.
He allowed four runs in five innings in a 6-5 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 3. But Lannan said he pitched better than his statistics showed that game.
Monday’s win will mean more to Lannan than just revenge against the Nationals if it leads to more quality starts.
“It’s something to build on,” he said.