WASHINGTON -- John Lannan peered at the sign, saw where his catcher set up, and went ahead and threw the ball right between the plate and the batter.
It was only his second start for the Washington Nationals, and Lannan quite simply had to prove to himself and everyone else that he could throw inside. In his big league debut last week, after all, the right-hander was ejected after hitting two batters.
"I kind of wanted to see how he'd react to throwing a ball in," Nationals catcher Brian Schneider said. "He did good."
Lannan stuck around longer this time, taking a shutout into the sixth inning Wednesday night, and Washington roughed up Bronson Arroyo again in a 7-2 victory over Cincinnati, the Reds' fourth consecutive loss.
Lannan, 22, began the season at Class-A Potomac but steadily moved his way up, level by level, until getting his first chance to pitch for the Nationals at the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday.
It was an OK outing that turned downright odd in the fifth inning, when Lannan hit Chase Utley -- who later turned out to have a broken hand -- and then Ryan Howard. Lannan was immediately tossed from the game, then heard about it over and over again, from teammates, family, friends.
He went so far as to avoid watching sports highlights on TV so he wouldn't have to see replays. And yet he was able to block out all of that hubbub Wednesday.
"I didn't let it get to me. I thought about it, but everything left my mind as soon as I stepped on the field today," he said. "I was proud of myself that I moved on and forgot about it and was able to pitch inside and not worry about hitting a guy, because I know I'm not like that. I'm glad I showed I can come inside."
Lannan (1-0) allowed two runs and five singles in 5 2/3 innings.
"He's come a long way this year. He's moved up the ranks," said Ryan Church, who hit a two-RBI single in Washington's four-run first. "And he pitched like a big league pitcher tonight."
Said Cincinnati's David Ross: "He did a good job of keeping us at bay."
Reds manager Pete Mackanin bemoaned that his team was just 2-for-12 overall with runners in scoring position on a night it faced "a guy up from Double-A or Triple-A - wherever he was from."
Lannan, meanwhile, got plenty of support from the majors' lowest-scoring offense: Arroyo (4-12) was lifted after allowing seven runs in 1 2/3 innings, the shortest start of his eight-year career.
"I felt fine physically," said Arroyo, who has allowed 13 runs in 3 2/3 innings for a 31.91 ERA in two appearances against Washington this season. "These guys just beat me up."
His final pitch was a 69 mph hanging curveball that Austin Kearns hit into the upper deck in left for a two-run homer.
"His location maybe is a little off," Kearns said. "And when we do get a mistake, we're taking advantage."
Lannan cruised through three hitless innings at the outset, and after Jeff Keppinger lined a single to right leading off the fourth, Ken Griffey Jr. grounded into a double play.
Brandon Phillips followed with a single -- and then produced a rare sight. With the left-handed Adam Dunn up, the Nationals employed a shift that put three infielders on the right side, with third baseman Ryan Zimmerman essentially playing shortstop. Phillips stole second and, when Schneider didn't attempt to throw him out, rounded the bag and headed for third without breaking stride.
He was credited with two stolen bases on the play, giving him 21 for the season.
Ever done that before, Brandon?
"Never," Phillips said with a laugh. "Maybe in Little League."
"It was kind of confusing. It was like a whirlwind," the rookie said. "But he didn't end up scoring, so that's a good thing."
Spoken like a veteran.