Lannan pitches into ninth as Nats survive Yanks

NEW YORK -- A flood of memories washed over John Lannan as he stood on the mound at Yankee Stadium and listened to the crowd cheer for his favorite team growing up.

This was one unforgettable night for the Long Island left-hander.

Lannan pitched into the ninth inning in his first career start against the New York Yankees, leading the Washington Nationals to a much-needed 3-2 victory Wednesday.

"The night belonged to him," Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

Lannan (4-5) allowed two runs and four hits in 8 1/3 innings, hurting one of his hometown teams for the second time in two weeks. He beat the New York Mets 7-1 on June 6, tossing a four-hitter for his first career complete game.

"He threw the ball in and out, mixed his pitches up, threw strikes," Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez said.

Johnny Damon hit a leadoff homer in the ninth and Mark Teixeira singled with one out, sending Lannan to the dugout and the Yankee Stadium crowd into a frenzy. Mike MacDougal replaced Lannan, who was born in Long Beach and wouldn't even hazard a guess when asked how many games he went to at the old stadium.

"My memories of 'Lets go Yankees' chants there, and just to be on the mound during that was unbelievable no matter what happens," he said. "I'm just grateful for the opportunity I got to pitch here and I'm glad we came out with a win tonight."

Pinch-runner Brett Gardner stole second and third on consecutive pitches with MacDougal on the mound before Rodriguez walked. But MacDougal got Robinson Cano to ground into a game-ending double play, pumping his fist after second baseman Anderson Hernandez threw to first.

It was MacDougal's first save since July 16, 2006, for Kansas City at Detroit. Cano fouled off four 2-2 pitches before hitting a tailor-made double-play ball to shortstop.

"It should be a big booster because he saved a huge ballgame in New York in front of the Yankees and in a tough situation," Acta said. "Cano has been hitting everything right on the nose."

Cano hit a leadoff homer in the fifth for New York's first hit and Chien-Ming Wang turned in a decent start for the Yankees, who played without Derek Jeter. The All-Star shortstop sat out with a sore left ankle after leaving New York's 5-3 victory over Washington on Tuesday night after seven innings.

Jeter went for an MRI before the game and checked out fine. He could be back in the lineup for Thursday's series finale.

Adam Dunn homered and Nick Johnson hit a two-run triple for the Nationals, who had lost 16 of 19. Washington improved to 7-24 on the road.

"I forgot how happy I could be after a baseball game," Dunn said. "This is how it's supposed to be and we just need to continue to find ways to win the game and not lose them."

Wang (0-5) likely bought himself at least another turn in the rotation with his best start of the year. The right-hander allowed three runs and six hits in a season-high five innings one day after his wife, Chia-Ling Wu, gave birth to their first child, a 7-pound, 12-ounce boy named Justin Jesse.

"I did see a more confident guy and he was smiling," said manager Joe Girardi, who wanted to watch a replay of Wang's outing before saying for sure that he would remain a starter.

Wang got a tough break in the fifth when Cristian Guzman reached on an infield single -- he appeared to be out at first on a close play. Johnson followed with a sinking liner to left-center. Center fielder Melky Cabrera tried to make a diving catch but the ball got past him and rolled to the wall.

Willie Harris and Guzman scored easily to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead, but Wang buckled down to strand Johnson at third.

Wang's tough sinker appeared to be working -- he recorded 10 outs on grounders. He said he felt better and hoped to remain in the rotation.

"We wanted to see some good things out of him and we did," Girardi said. "The ground-ball outs is a real good sign."

Wang entered 0-4 with a 21.60 ERA in five starts this season. He spent about a month on the disabled list with weakness in the adductor muscles in his hips and made three relief appearances before returning to the rotation June 4 against Texas.

Game notes
New York had been 23-0 when allowing three runs or fewer, the only unbeaten team in the majors in that category, and had won 33 in a row dating to last year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Dunn's drive was the sixth homer in the majors this season on a 3-0 count, according to STATS LLC. Only three of Dunn's 296 home runs have come on 3-0 counts.