(AP) ----John Lannan delivered exactly what his manager Davey Johnson called a "masterpiece" Saturday night -- and it was just what the Washington Nationals needed.
Lannan, just recalled from the minors, held Atlanta to two runs over seven innings and came through with the strong starting pitching performance the Nationals needed to break their three-game losing streak. Lannan, a 10-game winner last season who couldn't make the Nats starting rotation this spring, hurled the Nats to a 5-2 victory and a day-night doubleheader split with Atlanta. That keeps the Nats two and a-half games ahead of the Braves in the NL East race.
Lannan and two relievers combined on a five-hitter. Then, as planned, Lannan was shipped back to Triple-A Syracuse right after the game. He is being eyed as a possible replacement when Stephen Strasburg is shut down in September. Roger Bernadina had five hits in the twinbill, including a run-scoring single in the seventh that broke a 2-2 tie in the nightcap.
The Braves won the opener 4-0. Ben Sheets and two relievers combined on a six-hitter. Sheets has not allowed a run in 12 innings in two starts since signing with the Braves.
In other NL action:
---- The St. Louis Cardinals tied an 86-year-old franchise record by scoring 12 runs in an inning as they erupted in the seventh inning in a 12-0 whitewash of the Chicago Cubs. The Cards tied a 76-year-old major league record with seven doubles in an inning. St. Louis racked up 10 hits in its big inning.
-- A.J. Burnett remained undefeated at home by pitching 7 2-3 strong innings and the Pittsburgh Pirates matched a season high with their fourth consecutive win, beating the Miami Marlins 5-1. Burnett is 11-3 overall, and 7-0 at PNC Park.
-- Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips each hit two-run homers in Cincinnati's 6-2 victory over the fading Milwaukee Brewers that extended the Reds' surge without Joey Votto (VAH'-toh). The NL Central leaders have gone 4-2 since Votto learned he needed surgery for torn knee cartilage.
-- All-Star pitchers Cole Hamels and Matt Cain hit homers in the same inning, and Gregor Blanco drove in the tiebreaking run with a drag bunt single in the 10th to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 6-5 victory over fading Philadelphia. All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera hit a tying homer off Hamels in the eighth and Buster Posey hit a two-run shot for the NL West-leading Giants, who are 7-1 since the All-Star break.
----Juan Uribe (yoo-REE'-bay) broke out of a long slump with a homer and four RBIs and Chris Capuano (kap-yoo-AH'-noh) pitched seven solid innings against his former team as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the New York Mets 8-5. Uribe hit an early two-run double to end a 1-for-38 slide. He added a two-run homer in the ninth inning off 13-game winner R.A. Dickey, who was making his first relief appearance of the season to help an overtaxed Mets bullpen. The win was LA's third straight following a 1-7 skid.
---- Jason Kubel (KOO'-bul) cracked three home runs and drove in six runs in Arizona's 12-3 rout of Houston. Kubel has 20 homers nd 70 RBIs on the season. Kubel, who had a two-homer game Thursday at Cincinnati, became the seventh Arizona player to homer three times in a game.
Over in the AL:
---- Brandon Inge (ihnj) cracked a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning and the Oakland Athletics edged the New York Yankees 2-1. Yoenis Cespedes (yoh-EHN'-ehs SEHS'-peh-dehs) also homered. The Athletics have won four straight and eight of nine. Robinson Cano's (kuh-NOHZ') 23-game hitting streak ended for the Yanks. That was the longest hitting streak in the majors this year.
-- Mike Napoli (NAP'-oh-lee) homered twice against his former team, Yu Darvish struck out 11 over seven strong innings, and the Texas Rangers battered struggling Angels starter Ervin Santana, 9-2. Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba (yohr-VEET' tohr-ee-AL'-bah) and Adrian Beltre (BEHL'-tray) homered during Texas' five-run second inning.
-- Detroit took over first place in the American League Central with a 7-1 win over Chicago's White Sox. Rick Porcello pitched brilliantly into the ninth inning for the win. Brennan Boesch hit a three-run homer and Austin Jackson drove in the other four runs for the Tigers, who lead the White Sox by a half-game in the Central. Detroit was six games out after a loss to the Chicago Cubs on June 12. Porcello is 7-5. He fell just short of his first complete game, departing after he allowed two hard-hit singles to start the ninth. He allowed a run and five hits.
-- Jim Thome's (TOH'-meez) two-run homer in the seventh inning led the Baltimore Orioles to their fourth straight victory, a 3-1 win over Cleveland.
-- Edwin Encarnacion (ehn-kar-nah-see-OHN') tied the game with a two-run homer in the sixth, then J.P. Arencibia gave Toronto the lead with a seventh-inning solo shot and the Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 7-3.
-- Jason Vargas took a shutout into the seventh inning, Michael Saunders had two RBIs, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Tampa Bay Rays 2-1.
-- Lorenzo Cain drove in three runs and Alex Gordon had three hits and scored two runs as the Kansas City Royals beat the Minnesota Twins 7-3.
In MLB news:
-- Cleveland Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez has been suspended for three weeks by Major League Baseball for age and identity fraud. Indians GM Chris Antonetti said in a statement that Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona (FOW'-stoh kar-MOH'-nuh), has received a visa to return to the United States and that he would be eligible to rejoin the team Aug. 11. MLB said in a release that Hernandez will be allowed to participate in a minor league rehabilitation assignment during his suspension.
-- The Chicago White Sox have acquired Houston reliever Brett Myers for two minor league pitchers and a player to be named. Myers had 19 saves and a 3.52 ERA for the Astros this season and will try to bolster an inexperienced Chicago bullpen. Addison Reed, Chicago's 23-year-old closer, has 15 saves but a 4.24 ERA. Rookie Nate Jones has a 3.57 ERA in 35 appearances.
-- Johan (YOH'-hahn) Santana was placed on the 15-day disabled list by the Mets with a sprained right ankle. The left-hander has struggled since Reed Johnson of the Cubs stepped on his foot July 6 on a play at first base. Santana was hit hard for the third straight start Friday night in a 7-6 loss to the Dodgers, and manager Terry Collins said afterward the team was looking for a way to get some "energy" back in his arm.
-- Justin Morneau (mohr-NOH') has been placed on the paternity list by the Minnesota Twins. A player has a maximum of three days on the paternity list. Morneau is hitting .249 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs in 73 games.
-- Mariano Rivera knows it's not likely, but the New York Yankees closer has not ruled out the possibility of returning this season -- just a little over a month after undergoing surgery on his right knee.
LYTHAM (LITH'-um) ST. ANNES, England (AP) -- "Best golfer who has never won a major." Adam Scott can erase that unwanted label with his final 18 holes Sunday in the British Open. The 141st Open is Scott's to lose. Scott will take a four-shot lead over Brandt Snedeker (SNEH'-deh-kur) and Graeme McDowell. And five shots back is a guy by the name of Tiger Woods.
Scott shot a 2-under 68 in the third round to finish play 11-under-par. McDowell shot a 3-under-67 to secure his share of the runner-up position, while Snedeker was all over the course with a 3-over-73. His round consisted of six bogeys and three birdies. Woods toured the 18 holes in par-70 and is 6-under overall, five shots back of Scott. Ernie Els and Zach Johnson are a shot off Woods.
The forecast is calling for gusting winds for the fourth round.
Stallings in front
MADISON, Miss. (AP) -- At the PGA Tour stop in Mississippi, Scott Stallings took a four-stroke lead on Saturday at the True South Classic after shooting 6 under through the first 10 holes of the third round at Annandale Golf Club. Stallings had four birdies and an eagle when darkness suspended play. He's at 18 under for the tourney -- four up on Bill Horschel, Heath Slocum and Jason Bohn.
Brees comes to defense of teammate
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees defended teammate Jonathan Vilma in a court document filed to support Vilma's fight against the NFL over his season-long suspension. Brees, who signed a five-year, $100 million contract last week to stay with the Saints, also swears that he wasn't aware of any bounty program. The veteran signal-caller said he has no knowledge of a pay to injure program, and that in his four years as a teammate with Vilma, found that he is, "a man of integrity who passionately plays the game of football within the frameworks of the rules and has respect for his opponents."
TOUR DE FRANCE
CHARTRES, France (AP) -- Bradley Wiggins all but wrapped up the 2012 Tour de France with a win in the final time trial. The Team Sky leader obliterated the pack in today's 33-mile ride from Bonneval to Chartres. He is poised to become the first Briton to take home the yellow jersey.
The race against the clock in stage 19 set up what is likely to be a largely ceremonial ride into Paris for Sunday's finale.
Alonso gets the pole
HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) -- Fernando Alonso, the overall leader in the driver standings, will start Sunday's German Grand Prix (pree) from the pole. He set the fastest lap in wet conditions. The Spaniard edged two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber of Australia. Michael Schumacher of Germany was fourth in a Mercedes.
Alonso has a 13-point lead over Webber heading into the 10th of 20 races this season and is looking for his third win of the season after victories in the Malaysian and European races.
Hunter-Reay wins pole but won't start from the front
EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -- Points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay won the pole for Sunday's IndyCar race in Edmonton, but because of a penalty will start from the 11th position. Despite winning the pole, Hunter-Reay will start 11th because he's been penalized for an unapproved engine change. The penalty is 10 spots on the starting grid for Sunday's race.
Hunter-Reay has won the last three IndyCar races to move into the points lead. He's the first American since 2006 to lead the IndyCar standings, and he takes a 34-point lead over Will Power into Sunday's race.
Dario Franchitti (DA'-ree-oh fran-KEE'-tee) will start first because of Hunter-Reay's penalty.
LONDON (AP) -- The IOC has stripped American runner Crystal Cox of her gold medal from the 4x400-meter relay at the 2004 Athens Olympics for doping. Cox admitted in 2010 to using anabolic steroids and accepted a four-year suspension and disqualification of her results from 2001 to 2004.
The IOC executive board finally got around to formally disqualifying Cox today. the IOC left it up to the IAAF, the governing body of track and field, whether to disqualify the U.S. team, annul their victory and strip the other medals.
Cox ran in the preliminaries for the American team. Sanya Richards ran the final along with Dee Dee Trotter, Monique Henderson and Monique Hennegan.
LONDON (AP) -- IOC President Jacques Rogge (zhahk ROH'-geh) has rejected the latest calls for a minute's silence to be observed at the opening of the London Olympics for the 11 Israeli team members killed by Palestinian gunmen at the 1972 Munich Games. The IOC has come under pressure from politicians in the United States, Israel and Germany to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Munich massacre at next Friday's opening ceremony of the London Games.
Rogge says the IOC will pay homage to the slain Israeli athletes and coaches at a reception in London during the games and will attend a ceremony in Germany on the anniversary of the killings on Sept. 5.
Belmont winner Union Rags retired
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) -- Belmont Stakes winner Union Rags has been retired because of a tendon injury in his left front leg.
The announcement Saturday came a week after the colt's veterinarian had said he would be out with the injury, but that his prognosis was "excellent" for a return to the races next year.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Mike Lynn, the longtime Minnesota Vikings executive who made the ill-fated trade with Dallas for Herschel Walker, has died. He was 76. Lynn served as the team's general manager from 1975 to 1990.
He is best remembered for one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history. The Vikings sent five players and seven draft picks to the Cowboys in 1989 for Walker, the running back Lynn considered the missing link to a Super Bowl run.
Walker never panned out in Minnesota. Dallas used the windfall of players and picks to lay the groundwork for three Super Bowl wins in the 1990s.
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