"That's two wins in a row now and hopefully something we can build on with John." -- Manager Jim Riggleman, on John Lannan's successful last two outings.

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)
THE RESULT:  John Lannan and Sean Burnett combined for a four-hit effort as the Washington Nationals beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2, before a crowd of 19,549 at Nationals Park.

The Nats got three runs in the first and Wil Nieves' second home run of the year in the second off Arizona starter Joe Sauders for all the offense they would need on the evening.

Lannan (4-5, 5.23) made perhaps his finest start of the season, and early on showed he was going to be a factor in this game as he struck out two of the first three batters he faced in a 1-2-3 first inning.  He cruised through the first four frames, allowing just a single to No. 8 hitter Gerardo Parra in the third.

"He threw the ball good," said Manager Jim Riggleman.  "He had a good change-up, threw some good breaking pitches to left-handed hitter."

By that time, Lannan had a 4-0 cushion courtesy of some unlikely heros.

Alberto Gonzalez played second and batted first in Manager Jim Riggleman's lineup tonight against the left-handed Saunders, a Springfield, VA native.  He rewarded his manager's confidence with aleadoff single, and Ian Desmond (3-for-3, double, run) followed with another single. 

After Adam Dunn bounced to first to move both runners up, Ryan Zimmerman drove a ball through the hole that scored both runners, with Desmond sliding easily ahead of Parra's throw from left field, allowing Zimmerman to move up to second.

Zimmerman later came home on a Michael Morse safety for a three-run first.

Wil Nieves led off the second with his second home run of the season, depositing a Saunders off-speed pitch into the seats of the Red Porch to the right of the visitor's bullpen.  The Nats' backup catcher finished the night 2-for-4.

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)
That left the rest to Lannan, who only ran into trouble in the fifth inning.  After a Mark Reynolds walk, Stephen Drew ripped a ball over Dunn's head into the right field corner.  Morse dug it out and hit cut-off man Gonzalez, who then fired a laser to Nieves at home.

Nieves dove to the front corner of the plate and appeared to tag Reynolds on the back knee before the big third baseman could touch the plate, but home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg ruled Reynolds safe for the D-backs first run of the game.  Drew ended up on third, and later scored on a Parra single.

But that's all they would get off Lannan, the Nats leader in innings pitched the last two seasons.  He finished his night after throwing seven full innings, allowing just the two earned runs on four hits and one walk, striking out five in the effort.

Sean Burnett picked up where Lannan left off, getting all six batters he faced for a two-inning save, his second of the season and against Arizona in the past week and a half.

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

THE GOOD:  John Lannan.  This is the type of performance the Nats expected out of Lannan, their two-time Opening Day starter.  His exile to the minors in for a few weeks in the middle of the season wasn't so much of a wake-up call as an opportunity to fine-tune his sinker, something he needs to be effective at the major league level. 

He's just a different pitcher if he can strike a few guys out along the way, as he did tonight.

Props too to Ian Desmond.  He entered the game hitting .333/.345/.574 over his last 59 plate appearances and went 3-for-4 to bolster those numbers.

THE BAD:  Adam Dunn went 0-for-3 with two Ks and left runners in scoring position in both of his first two at bats.

THE UGLY:  Justin Maxwell went 0-for-4 and struck out twice.  Not a good way to find increased playing time.  It looks more and more like he's a 4-A player.  Such a shame he can't find a way to make consistant contact with all the tools he has.

THE STATS:  The Nats went 2-for-9 with RISP and left eight men total.  They struck out five times and walked twice.

NEXT GAME:  Tomorrow against Arizona.  Jason Marquis (0-4, 15.32) looks to salvage his season against Ian Kennedy (6-9, 4.47) at 7:05 pm.

NATS NOTES:  A couple of draft-related tidbits to pass along.  First, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported that Nats 2nd round draft pick, LHP Sammy Solis, was close to signing a contract this evening.  Solis is a left-handed starter out of University of San Diego.

Before the game, the Nats worked out Tennessee high schooler LHP Robbie Ray and introduced him to Stephen Strasburg and Jason Marquis during batting practice.  Ray seemed to be a long shot to sign, as he's committed to Arkansas, but if he's in for a workout it can only be considered a good thing.