Lannan unable to slow down White Sox

Lannan unable to slow down White Sox

WASHINGTON -- After the Nationals lost to the White Sox, 6-3, at Nationals Park on Sunday afternoon, there is a question that will not go away: What's wrong with John Lannan?

  • 134 wins
  • 118 wins

Lannan had one of the worst outings of his career, going four-plus innings and allowing five runs on 11 hits. He had a 3-1 lead entering the fifth inning but it went downhill after that.

Lannan didn't retire a batter in the fifth and allowed an RBI double to Alex Rios, while Paul Konerko drove in two runs with a single. After Lannan left the game, Miguel Batista induced Dayan Viciedo to hit into a double play, but Konerko scored the fourth run of the inning and that run was charged to Lannan.

"I really didn't have a feel for [my pitches] all game," Lannan said. "I just have to keep on battling and start making my pitches. I really haven't made pitches. I'm just giving up hits. ... I'm letting my team down, I'm letting myself, I'm letting everybody down. I'm having a tough go at it right now. I'm going to keep on battling, keep on going at it. I'm not going to give up."

In his last three games, Lannan hasn't pitched past the fifth inning and has allowed 15 runs in 13 innings. His ERA has gone up to 5.76 and he has hit a low point for the first time in his big league career. In the previous two years, Lannan has been the ace of the staff and is known to get a lot of ground-ball outs.

"It's not a run of bad luck. I'm just not making my pitches. I just have to go back and work hard," Lannan said.

Manager Jim Riggleman acknowledged that the Nationals have to think about how long they can stick with Lannan, who is expected to make his next start against the Orioles in Baltimore on Saturday.

"John has been a mainstay here and a horse for the ballclub," Riggleman said. "He is a person who always went into the sixth, seventh or eighth inning. When you continue to come out the fourth or fifth inning, it's just not going to work.

"I believe in John. There has to be something there because he has it in the bullpen. He'll get the ball sinking. He just haven't been able to do it in game situations. John has been too good for us to let a few starts detour us too much. We have a lot of leash with John."

Lannan insisted after the game that he is not hurt and needs longer bullpen sessions to fix his problems. Pitching coach Steve McCatty said Lannan's velocity on his fastball is still at 88-89 mph. McCatty believes that Lannan needs one great outing to get back on track.

"I'm sure his confidence is taking a little beating," McCatty said. "If he gets that one good solid game, where he hits his spots and he knows that he can do it, he will be right back to the John Lannan that has been here the last couple of years."

White Sox right-hander Freddy Garcia was the antithesis of Lannan, lasting seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits.

"[Garcia] had a lot of movement on all of his pitches," Adam Dunn said. "He is really deceptive being a big guy. He hides the ball very well. He was tough to pick up. He was just tough today."

The Nationals were able to score all three runs in the fourth inning. Dunn picked up an RBI on a fielder's choice, while Roger Bernadina and Nieves had RBI singles.

However, Garcia shut Washington down the next three innings. With the victory, the White Sox find themselves back at .500 with a 34-34 record.

"I talked about it when we started playing Interleague. I said we had a good chance to go back to .500," Garcia said. "We play the National League. I don't say we're better than them, but we play [well] against National League teams. We proved it. We swept Pittsburgh. We swept the Nationals. Now we're playing [well]. Pitching and hitting and everything. I think everything is coming around."

The Nationals (31-39) have lost six straight games and eight out of nine. Don't look for Riggleman to make major changes to the lineup.

"It's just not happening for us right now. We are struggling," Riggleman said. "Everybody in the locker room knows it. We are sticking together, though, and we are going to pass the character test. The character gets tested sometimes and we are getting tested right now."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.