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PHI@WSH: Utley's single gets Phillies on the board

WASHINGTON -- John Lannan took off his cap and grimaced as he wiped his brow.

After the left-hander's full-count fastball to Dan Haren sailed wide, Adam LaRoche walked home. Haren stood on first base, grinning from ear to ear. And in less than five innings, Lannan's return to Nationals Park had already become a night that he'd rather forget.

Lannan surrendered eight runs and nine hits over five innings against his former team as the Phillies fell to the Nationals, 9-2, on Friday night. The 28-year-old, who was drafted by Washington and spent his first six Major League seasons with the team, also walked a season-high five batters and couldn't hit his spots all night.

"I mean, usually I'm able to kind of battle, run 'em off, but today," Lannan said, "it just wasn't a great day."

The left-hander allowed eight earned runs for the first time since Aug. 16, 2008.

"Yeah, he was having a tough time," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He was getting behind a lot. Seemed like he never was ahead of hitters. It's not a good way to pitch."

Few teams have struggled more than the Nationals since the All-Star break, but the Phillies are one of them. A day after blowing out the Cubs and completing their first series win of the second half, the Phillies picked up their seventh loss in nine games and fell to 4-15 since the All-Star break. They've been outscored 112-62 during that span.

"We're just not playing as well. There's no one way to look at it," Michael Young said. "We've obviously had some pretty key injuries that have contributed to that, but at the same time, it's at a point where every guy's got to play with some pride and take pride in the way you play the game."

Philadelphia managed only four hits against Haren, who has pitched well since the All-Star break but was placed on waivers by the Nationals on Thursday. Young doubled in the fourth inning and was brought home by newly re-signed Chase Utley. Then, in the seventh, Utley doubled and was knocked in on a fielder's choice by Cody Asche.

The Phillies' bats were otherwise quiet, as five of their eight starting position players finished the night without a hit.

"[Haren] had better command," Manuel said. "I wouldn't say his stuff was any different. I think his command was definitely better, his pitch selection was better. He threw a lot of soft stuff when he got ahead of us. He threw us a lot of sliders and splits and stuff."

While Haren was dealing, Lannan was struggling. He walked two batters in the first inning before giving up a pair of home runs in the second. Anthony Rendon had a two-run shot, which was reviewed by the umpires and upheld, and Ryan Zimmerman followed later with a solo homer.

"I think Johnny, just like when he was here, if he leaves balls up, he gets in trouble," Zimmerman said. "I guess that's kind of how it is with any pitcher. The last couple times we've seen him, he threw the ball well and kind of kept the ball down and threw his changeup well, and tonight he just made some mistakes and we took advantage of them."

Lannan settled down briefly in the third and retired the Nationals in order in the fourth. But in the fifth, his outing unraveled.

With two outs and Jayson Werth on first base, Lannan got two strikes on LaRoche before leaving a changeup over the middle of the plate. LaRoche, who was 0-for-15 against Lannan entering the game, slapped the ball to right field for a single.

"I had him there," Lannan said.

After Wilson Ramos hit an RBI double to give the Nats a 5-1 lead, Lannan intentionally walked Rendon to load the bases with the pitcher's spot due up. Lannan fell behind, 3-0, against Haren but battled back to a full count before his 3-2 fastball sailed wide, and any chance at a win went with it.

"He has to definitely have command," Manuel said. "He has to be good, he has to be perfect on his pitches. He has to go in and out, up and down on the corners and things. He can't live in the middle of the plate, or up."

Lannan signed a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Phillies during the offseason, and he has two more months to give them a reason to bring him back.

"He's had some good games," Manuel said. "Actually the last game he pitched against these guys was good. But he's also inconsistent, kind of like a lot of our guys."

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