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Constantly adjusting Lannan ready to rejoin Nats rotation

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Constantly adjusting Lannan ready to rejoin Nats rotation

NEW YORK -- The 2012 baseball season has featured one unexpected turn after another for John Lannan, so it's perhaps appropriate the left-hander's return to the Nationals rotation will come at a time and place nobody expected.

Though he was promoted from Class AAA Syracuse on Sept. 1, Lannan wasn't supposed to make his first start for the Nationals until this weekend in Atlanta. But then the club decided to shut down Stephen Strasburg five days earlier than planned, so now Lannan finds himself preparing to start tomorrow night's series finale against the Mets.

He hasn't appeared in a game since his Aug. 30 start for Syracuse, but he's tried to keep himself on something of a regular routine entering this outing.

"We're just gonna act like I skipped a start," he said. "I didn't pitch, but I followed my routine. I had a pretty good one going, so I just kept on doing that. Got my lifts in, did my running, did everything necessary. I threw three bullpens. I just acted as if I skipped a couple starts, and now I'm pretty much on the routine as if I was pitching Wednesday. So it worked out."

Lannan has gotten used to adapting to unexpected challenges. After assuming he'd be in the Nationals' Opening Day rotation, he learned on April 3 he was instead being shipped to the minors despite his 5 million salary and big-league track record. After initially requesting a trade, he set about trying to work his way back to D.C., ultimately earning two summer starts during doubleheaders.

Lannan won both of those games and was given assurances he would return in September to take Strasburg's rotation spot. He tried not to anticipate when exactly that would take place, and that approach probably paid off because he's now starting several days earlier than expected.

Lannan's last two starts at Syracuse -- back-to-back shutouts -- were by far his best of the season, but he's being careful not to assume that success will immediately carry-over into a big-league pennant race.

"It just doesn't translate," he said. "It is what it is down there, but it's a whole different mindset right now. I just tried to stay as fresh as I could in the bullpens. I knew I couldn't create what I'm going to feel on Wednesday. But looking forward to something, the last bullpen I threw, the mentality changed."

A Long Island native, Lannan will have family on hand for tomorrow's game. It's his first start at Citi Field since April 10, 2010, when he beat the Mets, 4-3, and it comes five months after he thought he'd pitch here in the fifth game of this season.

"I was supposed to make my first start here, when I was supposedly in the rotation," he noted. "So it's kind of crazy that I'm making this start now."

It's easy to think of Lannan stepping in as a fresh arm to take over for a tiring Strasburg, but the 27-year-old has thrown 161 23 innings over 26 starts combined starts between Syracuse and Washington this season. He insists he remains physically strong for the stretch run.

"I feel great," he said. "Obviously I ended the season strong at Syracuse, and I felt good those last two starts. I threw 122 pitches in my last start. Obviously it's different; I'm not throwing in front of 200 people here, so the adrenaline is probably more up here than it is down there. It's just something that happens.

"It feels great, because I haven't been in a lot of pressure situations down there. But I'm ready."

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Harper's 10th-inning single lifts Nationals past Reds 6-5

Harper's 10th-inning single lifts Nationals past Reds 6-5

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper singled in the winning run in the 10th inning, Brian Goodwin homered twice and the Washington Nationals got a solid performance from their bullpen in a 6-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy also homered for the Nationals, who trailed 5-2 in the sixth before coming back to deal the Reds their 12th loss in 13 games.

Trea Turner singled off Raisel Iglesias (2-2) with one out in the 10th and took third on a single by Goodwin before Harper hit a liner that struck the right-field wall on one bounce.

Matt Albers (3-1) pitched the 10th to cap an impressive night for the Nationals' bullpen, a maligned group that blanked the Reds on one hit over the final five innings.

Goodwin homered in the first inning and again in the seventh, the first multihomer game of the rookie's career.

Scooter Gennett connected for the skidding Reds.

Seeking his ninth win, Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings, walking two and striking out five. It was only the third time in 15 starts the right-hander allowed more than three earned runs, but it was also the third straight start in which he failed to go six innings.

Reds starter Luis Castillo pitched five effective innings in his major league debut and left with a 5-2 lead, but the Cincinnati bullpen deprived him of the victory. Castillo allowed two runs and five hits, walking five and striking out five.

The 24-year-old rookie was replaced by Michael Lorenzen, who promptly served up a home run to Murphy and gave up a sacrifice fly to pinch-hitter Stephen Drew later in the sixth.

Wandy Peralta took over in the seventh and, like Lorenzen, gave up a homer to the first batter he faced. Goodwin's drive to right made it 5-all.

Early on, Cincinnati dominated.

The Reds batted around in a four-run first inning that featured Gennett's 10th home run, a run-scoring fly ball by Scott Schebler and successive RBI singles from Devin Mesorasco and Jose Peraza.

Goodwin homered in the bottom half, but Mesoraco singled in a run in the third. The two-out bloop landed in front of Wilmer Difo, who was playing center field for the first time in the majors and pulled up as the ball dropped at his feet.

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Max Scherzer's bid for third no-hitter ends in heartbreak

Max Scherzer's bid for third no-hitter ends in heartbreak

Max Scherzer's bid for the third no-hitter of his big league career ended with one out in the eighth inning, and he then gave up two unearned runs as the Miami Marlins rallied to beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 Wednesday.

After backup catcher A.J. Ellis reached on an infield single for Miami's first hit, an error by first baseman Adam Lind and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs. Scherzer threw a wild pitch that scored the tying run, and Giancarlo Stanton lined an RBI single -- the Marlins' only other hit -- to put them ahead.

Scherzer (8-5) threw no-hitters against the Pirates and Mets in 2015, and he seemed on his way to another when he began the eighth inning with a 1-0 lead.

He retired 18 in a row before Ellis hit a chopper that bounced in front of the plate and glanced off the tip of Scherzer's glove as he reached overhead for it. The ball rolled to shortstop Trea Turner, who failed in his attempt to make a barehanded pickup and rush a throw.

MORE NATS: 12-3 win over Marlins Tuesday

Official scorer Ron Jernick immediately ruled the play a hit, and Scherzer knew it. He picked up the ball and angrily flung it to the dugout -- not as a souvenir.

Washington totaled five hits against Dan Straily and three relievers. Kyle Barraclough (3-1) pitched the eighth, and A.J. Ramos worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his 10th save.

Scherzer threw a season-high 121 pitches and had 11 strikeouts, reaching double figures for the sixth game in a row, the team's longest such streak such the franchise moved to Washington for the 2005 season.

He lowered his ERA to 2.08, best in the NL. He also leads the league with 145 strikeouts.

The other no-hitter in the majors this year was achieved on the same mound by Miami's Edinson Volquez against Arizona on June 3.

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The crowd of 22,659 for the 12:10 p.m. start included thousands of youngsters on camp day, and they gave the game a scream-filled soundtrack.

The score was 0-0 until Washington's Ryan Raburn hit his first homer of the year in the fifth. Raburn was a late replacement for outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who was scratched because he wasn't feeling well.

That was the only run allowed by Straily, who went six innings.

Scherzer walked Christian Yelich with two out in the first and hit Derek Dietrich with a pitch with one out in the second. That was Miami's last baserunner until the eighth.