Lannan and Phillies take first game from Nationals

Caught looking: Phils centerfielder Ben Revere runs down a shot by Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Caught looking: Phils centerfielder Ben Revere runs down a shot by Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche. (RON CORTES / Staff)
Posted: July 10, 2013

Ben Revere's left hand scraped home Monday for another Phillies run. His body tumbled four feet past the plate. The fans at Citizens Bank Park yelled and he somersaulted to celebrate. Revere rolled backward, thrust his hands to the ground, then kicked his feet into the air for a dramatic landing.

This ballpark is awash with tepid enthusiasm at the season's most critical point. The Phillies have won three of four against the two National League East teams ahead of them. The 3-2 victory over rival Washington on Monday was carried by John Lannan.

But the reality for this team is that one win or one hot week alone will not make them contenders. It will require a consistency the Phillies have not shown since early last season.

Manager Charlie Manuel sought consistency in platitudes.

"People talk and they say, 'This is the biggest series' and things like that," Manuel said. "I say, 'Our philosophy is to play the same every day.' Our No. 1 priority is the game, to win the game. I don't know how big a series is. Every one of them is big. Every game we play should be looked upon as big."

The Phillies were lucky that Lannan limited the bullpen's work to a mere inning. Jonathan Papelbon surrendered two ninth-inning runs to supply some unwanted drama. Jayson Werth crushed a deep one to center that fell as a sacrifice fly instead of a game-tying home run.

Lannan, facing the team from which he demanded a trade via e-mail last spring, breezed through eight innings.

Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond flailed at his 109th and final pitch, an 89-m.p.h. fastball. Desmond flicked his bat in disgust. He chucked his helmet. The fans feted Lannan with a deserved standing ovation. He had not thrown eight shutout innings since July 21, 2009.

"Best I've seen him pitch," Manuel said. "A tremendous outing."

Washington spent $13 million for Dan Haren to fill a role for which Lannan is being paid $2.5 million. Haren's 6.15 ERA entering the game was the worst for any pitcher in baseball with at least 15 starts. This was his first outing in 16 days because of right shoulder inflammation.

The Phillies rapped two singles on Haren's initial three pitches. On his sixth pitch, a double steal put the runners in scoring position. The eighth pitch was swatted right back at Haren by Domonic Brown for a run-scoring infield single.

Before Monday, the Phillies, Nationals, and Braves shared identical 37-36 records since April 19. The season is not decided on a first-half, 74-game stretch, but the Phillies are best in that span with Monday's results.

The Phillies' top decision-makers will meet Tuesday to plot trade-deadline strategy. The last week of games may force a delay on any resolutions. There is no rush - plenty of baseball remains until the July 31 deadline. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. labeled this homestand a defining one in the season. The Phillies are 3-1 so far, with six games to play before the break.

Revere was 3 for 5 and raised his average to an even .300. He scored two runs.

Lannan carved through the Washington lineup, worst in the majors against lefthanded pitching with a .218 batting average and paltry .626 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

"I got more from facing them before," Lannan said. "I've watched them the last couple of years, but you really don't know until you face them."

The Nationals will face two lefties - Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee - the next two nights. That bodes well for Philadelphia in an urgent time.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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