Nationals 8, Cardinals 6

The Washington Nationals might need John Lannan to make his next

start on three days’ rest. Right after working five tough innings,

the left-hander began preparing.

By the time Lannan met with reporters following an 8-6 victory

over the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of a day-night

doubleheader on Wednesday, he’d already done conditioning work that

normally would have been saved for Thursday. Even after 101

pitches, he said short rest would not be a problem.

”As soon as I got out of the game I knew I had to kind of get

things going,” Lannan said. ”I have plenty of time to get

ready.”

Manager Jim Riggleman said Sunday’s starting pitcher at

Pittsburgh will be decided later in the week. The other logical

choice, Jordan Zimmermann, allowed five runs in six innings and

threw 96 pitches in a 5-3 loss in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

”You’ve got to be ready for whenever you start,” Lannan said.

”So right now I’m mentally getting ready and we’ll see what

happens.”

Lannan (2-1) was in and out of trouble, inducing two double-play

balls and holding the Cardinals hitless in seven at-bats with men

on base. The only damage came on homers by Albert Pujols and Colby

Rasmus.

”I just felt a little off,” Lannan said. ”Against this kind

of lineup, you’re kind of lucky going out there and getting through

five with the stuff that I had.”

Laynce Nix homered and drove in two runs in Game 1 for the

Nationals, who chased Jake Westbrook with a six-run third

inning.

Lance Berkman had three hits and two RBIs to help St. Louis

salvage the split. The Cardinals got four innings of one-hit relief

in Game 2.

Jaime Garcia (3-0) allowed one earned run in five-plus innings

and Colby Rasmus got his fourth RBI of the day as St. Louis snapped

Washington’s four-game winning streak. Reserve third baseman Daniel

Descalso had three nice defensive plays.

Jason Motte and rookie Eduardo Sanchez combined for nine

straight outs and stand-in closer Mitchell Boggs yielded a hit in

the ninth before finishing for his first career save.

Zimmermann (1-3) kept alive the Nationals starters’ streak of

working at least five innings in every game, but struggled after

beginning the season with a nice run. The right-hander allowed two

earned runs or less in each of his first three outings.

”I didn’t have my best stuff today and I missed on a couple

pitches,” Zimmermann said. ”I battled with what I had and that’s

about it.”

Berkman, the reigning NL player of the week, doubled in a run in

the fourth and delivered a run-scoring single for the go-ahead hit

in the fifth of Game 2.

Descalso charged to throw out Jerry Hairston Jr. on a grounder

in the third and later in the inning snared Danny Espinosa’s

bouncer down the line and threw him out. He foiled another slow

roller on Jayson Werth’s run-scoring groundout in the fourth.

The second half of a day-night doubleheader drew a paid

attendance of 33,714 and a turnstile count of 28,536, a massive

improvement over the opener. A sparse crowd of 8,686 showed up for

Game 1 at general admission prices and a sit-anywhere policy to

watch the makeup game of a rainout Tuesday night, the franchise’s

worst crowd since Sept. 14, 1989, when only 1,519 watched a makeup

of a tie game called by rain against the Pirates.

Sloppy play by St. Louis helped the Nationals tie it in Game

2.

Left fielder Matt Holliday camped under and dropped Rick

Ankiel’s fly ball to the warning track for a three-base error in

the fourth, leading to an unearned run. Espinosa hit an RBI single

in the fifth, then went to third on Garcia’s wild pickoff throw for

an error before scoring on Ankiel’s single.

The Cardinals regained the lead with a two-out rally in the

bottom of the fifth that began with Pujols’ full-count walk and was

capped by run-scoring singles from Berkman and Yadier Molina.

Pujols hit his fifth homer and Rasmus also went deep in the

opener. Rasmus had three RBIs, but also grounded into two of the

Cardinals’ four double plays. Demoted closer Ryan Franklin retired

four straight batters before Nix homered with one out in the eighth

on a pitch that caused Franklin to recoil in disgust.

”They hit one ball hard and everything else I made pitches,”

Franklin said. ”You can’t keep being negative on yourself, you’ve

got to try to take something positive out of it.”

Drew Storen allowed a walk while getting the last four outs for

his second save in two chances. Espinosa had three hits, including

a pair of infield singles.

The Nationals did the little things like Ankiel going from first

to third – minus a shoe – and Ian Desmond swiping home on a double

steal. They scored the game’s first run after Werth’s aggressive

slide at second prevented a double play.

”We’ve got to do that. We’re not going to be a slugging team,”

Riggleman said. ”We had a little margin because of good

baserunning.”

Westbrook (1-2) has a 9.82 ERA after four starts, allowing 30

hits in only 18 1-3 innings, and is 7-18 for his career in the

first month. He gave up seven runs and seven hits in three innings,

his shortest outing since May 2, 2007, when he left a start with

Cleveland after 1 1-3 innings with an abdominal injury that landed

him on the 15-day disabled list.

”It just wasn’t a good day to get behind the hitters, or

anytime for that matter, but today was especially bad,” Westbrook

said. ”It just kind of snowballed in that one inning.”

Tyler Clippard got Pujols to fly out with two men on to end the

sixth, and struck out pinch-hitters Jon Jay and Descalso to end the

seventh with two on base.

NOTES: Lannan is 5-0 in his last six road starts. … Franklin

has allowed four homers in 6 2-3 innings after giving up seven all

last year in 65 innings. … Ankiel made his first appearance in

St. Louis as an opposing player and got a nice ovation before his

first at-bat.