WASHINGTON -- When Brian Bruney gave up an unearned run in the top of the eighth inning to give the Milwaukee Brewers a 3-2 lead, Washington Nationals fans could have been forgiven if they had the feeling that they'd seen this type of bullpen performance before.

On this night, however, the true bullpen fiasco belonged to the Brewers.  Reliever LaTroy Hawkins came into a 3-2 lead and left with a 5-3 deficit, and Sean Burnett and Matt Capps made the two-run lead stand in the top of the ninth, delivering the Nats their fifth win, and evened their record at .500 through 10 games in 2010.

Adam Kennedy was the batting hero.  His ground ball to first base got past an awkward Prince Fielder for a single, plating pinch-runner Willy Taveras and Josh Willingham, who had been hit by Hawkins.

Kennedy then stole second base, and scored on catcher Wil Nieves' clean single to left field for the final margin.  Nieves finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored.

Kennedy's heroics were helped by a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by shortstop Ian Desmond, moving up two runners.

All told, Hawkins surrendered three earned runs on three hits and a hit batter.  In Milwaukee's last game Wednesday night, Hawkins took the loss as well, giving up four runs in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs.

Bruney (W, 1-0, 10.38) was the benficiary of the offense, as he was the pitcher of record after taking over for John Lannan.  He gave up a run on a Casey McGehee single (3-for-4, HR, 2 runs), an error charged to third baseman Alberto Gonzalez on a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly by Gregg Zaun.

Gonzalez' throw on the bunt trailed toward the first base bag, and with the runner coming hard, Cristian Guzman--covering on the play from second base--was late, and short-armed the toss.

Guzman did not have a very good game, making the third out of the inning with runners in scoring position in three consecutive at bats.

Lannan, however, did have a very good game.  The lefty held Milwaukee to two earned runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts.  He gave up McGehee's wind-aided home run in the second inning and Corey Hart's RBI single in the fifth. 

But he struck out Fielder twice and was vintage Lannan, coaxing 14 ground ball outs against just two fly ball outs.

Manager Jim Riggleman described the difference between Lannan's positive effort Friday night and his struggles earlier this season.

"He just keeps locating the ball.  He just keeps doing what he does.  He locates and changes speeds and gets ground balls.  That's his style of pitching.  He didn't get distracted by the home run ball. 

That particular ball I thought was going to be an out, and I know John must have thought it was going to be an out.  Next thing you know it was 1-0.  He just beared down and got enough ground balls so it wasn't a factor."

The Nats first run was in the third inning off Brewers' starter Yovani Gallardo (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) courtesy of a Nyjer Morgan triple, chasing Nieves home from first base.  It was clear that Morgan would get three bases on the play--what was in doubt if the less-swift catcher would be safe at home.

But Nieves managed to sneak his left hand onto the plate before the tag of his opposite number Zaun.

Washington also got a home run from John Willingham (2-for-2, 2 runs, HR (3), walk, HBP) on a ball that barely made it over the left field wall.  Willingham thought he got more of it, as he tossed his bat triumphantly after the swing, but soon realized that he hit the ball into a very stiff wind that had kicked up.

The entire game was played under a steady drizzle.  In fact, under a stronger cloudburst in the top of the sixth with two outs, home plate umpire Adrian Johnson looked as if he wanted to call for the tarp, but the Nats Park ground crew apparently were no where to be found. 

Lannan got the final out of the inning and the rain stopped as soon as it started.

The Nats played without Ryan Zimmerman in the starting lineup for the fifth consecutive game, and lost first baseman Adam Dunn in the bottom of the first when he was ejected for arguing a check-swing third strike by third base umpire Andy Fletcher.  Dunn stood to protest after he was half-way to first, and angrily slammed his helmet toward the pitcher's mound, immediately earning the ejection.

But Riggleman was enthused that his remaining troops rallied.

"I'm just really glad the way they're scrapping and getting after it, trying to win a ballgame when you're not at the top of your game. But it comes back to pitching, and Lannan pitched a great ballgame for us."

Saturday afternoon, Livan Hernandez (1-0, 0.00) faces Randy Wolf (1-0, 4.05) in game two of the three-game set.  Game time is 1:05 pm.

NATS NOTES:  Nationals RF Willie Harris wore No. 42 to honor Jackie Robinson, and the team presented a video tribute to the first player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Harris and Robinson were both born in Cairo, Ga.

Zimmerman pinch-hit for the second game in a row, and hit into a 6-4-3 double play.  But he did run hard to try to beat it out, despite Riggleman's preference in the pre-game press conference that his star third baseman not run hard to beat out a ground ball.  But Zimmerman ran through the bag hard, and did not show any ill effects from the sprint. 

Riggleman indicated in the post-game presser that Zimmerman would again try out his balky hamstring before Saturday's game before pronouncing him fit for regular duty.

Matt Capps retired both batters he faced for his fifth save of the season, punctuated by striking out Corey Hart for the final out of the game.