For once, they got a break.
Lannan pitched effectively into the seventh inning, overcoming a near home run by Ryan Ludwick, and Washington won consecutive road games for the first time in a month with a 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday.
Lannan (4-5) allowed a homer to highly touted rookie Anthony Rizzo and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. The left-hander gave up six hits.
But it could have been different after Ludwick hit a high fly down the left-field line leading off the fourth. The ball hit right near the yellow foul pole that is located on the corner of the brick Western Metal Supply Co. building.
Third base umpire Wally Bell initially ruled the ball fair, which would have tied the game at 2. But after the umpires huddled, they left the field to study replays. When they returned, the ruling was foul ball. Replays appeared to indicate the ball hit just inches to the left of the foul pole.
Lannan ended up striking out Ludwick.
"It was come and go with my changeup," Lannan said. "I would throw two bad ones, then when I needed to I'd throw a good one. I got lucky (on a changeup) with the Ludwick homer."
Third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. had a good view of the ball, and after having played at Petco Park last season with the Padres, he knew it was foul.
"Just by the way it caromed, it just looked foul," he said. "That's a big break because if it's a few inches over, that's a home run."
Said Ludwick, who plays left field: "Playing out there, you kind of see how the wall angles. When it ricocheted that hard and that far, I thought it was foul. I think it was more anxiety waiting for the call."
Washington is 9-13 in one-run games.
The Nationals, with the NL's second-worst road record at 15-24, won consecutive road games for the first time since May 10-11. They had dropped 13 of 18 away from home.
The club also won successive games at San Diego for the first time September 1999, when the franchise was located in Montreal.
"I'm just happy with how the team has played," Washington manager Jim Riggleman said. "We have played good baseball. It was another good, clean game."
The Nationals, who finished with five hits, won despite having only one hit and two baserunners after the second inning. Washington also won 2-1 on Friday night when it had just four hits.
Part of the Nationals' problems on offense were a number of great San Diego defensive plays. Jayson Werth got robbed of two hits, one on a line drive that third baseman Chase Headley dove for in the first and another on a sinking ball into center field that Chris Denorfia caught in the eighth.
"They took so many hits away from us," Riggleman said. "That can come back and haunt you."
Drew Storen pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 opportunities.
Clayton Richard (2-8) threw seven solid innings for San Diego, giving up two runs and five hits. Richard has lost three straight starts despite allowing just six earned runs. The Padres have scored only three runs for him while he was in the game over his last four starts.
Lannan, who is 2-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his last four starts, had allowed only one home run this season to a left-handed batter before Rizzo connected for his first major league homer.
Rizzo turned on an inside pitch from Lannan and hit it to right field on top of the out-of-town scoreboard.
"I was trying to throw it away and I didn't get it away and he put a good swing on it," Lannan said. "He's a good hitter. He's impressed me and he's impressed us with the way he's handled each at-bat this series."
Lannan held San Diego scoreless over 7 2/3 innings on May 27 at home but came away with a no-decision in Washington's 2-1 win.
San Diego, which fell to an NL-worst 14-25 at home, has dropped four of six and fell to 5-5 on a season-long 11-game homestand.
Ian Desmond started the Nationals' first inning with a one-out single and scored on Espinosa's double. With two outs, Ramos singled for a 2-0 lead.
The Padres and Nationals have had four of their six matchups this season end in 2-1 scores, with Washington winning three. ... The Nationals franchise is 11-29 in San Diego since 2000, including 6-18 at Petco Park. ... Washington LF Roger Bernadina was a late scratch from the lineup due to left hamstring tightness. Bernadina, scheduled to bat ninth with Lannan hitting eighth, was replaced by Brian Bixler, who had two singles and a walk. ... Rizzo batted fifth for the second straight game after hitting in the No. 7 spot in his debut. ... San Diego wore throwback uniforms from the 1936 Padres of the Pacific Coast League, while Washington wore jerseys from the 1936 Washington Senators.