WASHINGTON — John Lannan and the Washington Nationals found yet another novel way to keep their winning ways going, beating the Seattle Mariners 2-1 Wednesday night with a pair of unearned runs off Erik Bedard.
The Nationals scored in the first and fourth with the help of errors against the game’s top interleague pitcher to win for the 10th time in 11 games. Just 24 hours earlier, they opened the series by overcoming a 5-1 ninth-inning deficit capped by Wilson Ramos’ improbable walk-off homer.
The win puts Washington at .500 for the first time since May 11. The franchise hasn’t been at break-even this late in the season since finishing with a .500 record in 2005, its inaugural season in the nation’s capital.
Lannan (5-5) allowed three hits and one run over 5 2-3 innings. Henry Rodriguez, Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen shut down the Mariners the rest of the way, with Storen pitching the ninth for his 18th save as the cheers cascaded — an increasingly common event at Nationals Park recently after years of last-place baseball.
Bedard (4-5) got a hard-luck loss for his superb night’s work. He allowed three hits over six innings, and his 10 strikeouts were his most since May 2008. He also continues to baffle the National League like few others — his interleague ERA dropped to 1.69, lowest among active pitchers, but his interleague record fell to 8-2.
Given the recent track records of the starters, a pitcher’s duel appeared inevitable. Lannan was 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA in his last five starts, while Bedard was 4-0 with a 1.70 ERA in his last nine. Both no doubt would have pitched deeper into the game were it not for the muggy conditions along the Anacostia River, where the first-pitch temperature was 88 degrees.
Lannan’s evening came to an end during an eventful half-inning that started when Ichiro Suzuki reached on a comebacker that caromed off Lannan’s left heel for a hit.
Ichiro advanced to third on a throwing error by shortstop Ian Desmond, who was relaying the ball to the infield after a flyout to right. But Ichiro then was tagged out at home trying to score on a grounder to third, a baserunning gaffe that proved especially costly when Franklin Gutierrez followed with a two-out single.
The Nationals scored off Bedard in the first when Ryan Zimmerman was hit by a pitch and advanced when third baseman Chone Figgins couldn’t handle a hot grounder by Michael Morse. Zimmerman then scored on Danny Espinosa’s single to center.
In the fourth, Espinosa again singled to center, took off for second on a wild pitch and kept going to third when catcher Miguel Olivo’s throw went into the outfield. He then scored on a two-out, infield single by Jerry Hairston.
Seattle’s run came in the fourth when Justin Smoak doubled to the left-field corner — the Mariners’ first hit of the game — and scored on Olivo’s single.