ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Angels manager Mike Scioscia exchanged lineup cards with Davey Johnson at home plate for the first time since the 2000 season.
Then, his team reminded Johnson what it was like to return to a losing clubhouse.
Maicer Izturis hit a bases-loaded single in the 10th inning and Los Angeles beat the Nationals 4-3 on Monday night, spoiling Johnson's debut as Washington manager.
But it didn't come easy. The Angels were outhomered 3-0, and rookie closer Jordan Walden blew his third straight save opportunity.
"You take a win any way they come," Scioscia said. "We definitely had to work for this one."
Johnson, who began his new job four days after Jim Riggleman's abrupt resignation, is managing his fifth big league club at age 68 after stints with the Mets (1984-90), Reds (1993-95), Orioles (1996-97) and Dodgers (1999-2000). He took over a 40-38 team that entered Monday 8½ games out of first place in the NL East and had won 13 of 15 overall — including a series at the Chicago White Sox in which the Nats took two of three under interim skipper John McLaren.
"It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed every minute of it," Johnson said. "It was kind of like flying an airplane. Even if you haven't flown for a while, you can still get it off the ground and land it. I liked the way we battled. They got 16 hits and we got six, and it was still a very close ballgame. I still enjoyed that one, even though it was a loss."
Sean Burnett (3-4) gave up a one-out single to Alberto Callaspo and a ground-rule double by Peter Bourjos — his fourth hit of the game. An intentional walk to Bobby Wilson set the stage for Izturis, who grounded a 1-0 pitch through the middle.
"I sent (pitching coach) Steve McCatty out there to give him the option of pitching to the 9-hole guy with the infield in or go against the leadoff guy," Johnson said. "I felt like he could get a groundball with him and maybe we could turn two."
Scott Downs (5-2) got the victory with a hitless inning.
The Angels were one out from a clean getaway in the ninth when Walden gave up a first-pitch homer to Danny Espinosa, the rookie's sixth blown save in 23 chances overall. Espinosa's drive into the lower seats in the right-field corner was his 15th homer, the most among major league rookies.
"It was a fastball down right in the middle. I was trying to go away with it, but it came back across the plate and he was sitting on it," Walden said. "Things happen. It's part of the game. Everyone goes out there and blows the game sometimes, but you've just got to bounce back next time and have a good performance. Things haven't gone well for me, but as a team we're playing really good right now and we're in the race."
Los Angeles got its leadoff man on in five of the first six innings and snapped a 2-all tie in the sixth when Wilson grounded a two-out single through the left side to drive in Callaspo and chase starter John Lannan.
"I probably went a little further than I should have with Lannan, but I wanted to give him the opportunity to get a win," Johnson said. "We were a little short in the 'pen and it cost us a little bit."
Lannan allowed three runs and 11 hits after going 3-0 with a 1.18 ERA over his previous six starts.
"It was a battle tonight," he said. "It seemed like I always had runners on, but the defense kept picking me up and I was able to make pitches when I needed to."
Ervin Santana went eight innings, allowing two runs and five hits with five strikeouts. The Angels right-hander, who has allowed nine home runs over his last six starts, served up leadoff homers to Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmerman.
The Angels tied it in the fourth with two-out RBI singles by Callaspo and Bourjos. Callaspo's hit got him out of a 2-for-34 rut. He finished 3 for 5.
Angels right fielder Torii Hunter didn't start for the fourth straight game because of bruised ribs, but came in for defense in the eighth. He ended up batting in the 10th, swung late at a pitch from Burnett and hit a vicious shot into the corner of the Washington dugout that almost took out Johnson — who had a relieved grin on his face seconds later.
NOTES: Johnson lost his first game with the Mets and Reds, and won his first game with the Orioles and Dodgers. ... Teams managed by Johnson are 19-17 against clubs managed by Scioscia. ... Scioscia was managing the Dodgers' Triple-A team in 1999 when the organization hired Johnson to take over the big club. Bill Russell, whom Johnson replaced as Dodgers manager, attended Monday's game in his current job as one of 11 umpire observers employed by Major League Baseball to evaluate their performance. ... Scioscia was a catcher with the Dodgers when he helped them upset Johnson's Mets in the 1988 NL championship series with a clutch home run off Dwight Gooden. ... Nationals RHP Chien-Ming Wang pitched three innings in his first rehab start for Class-A Hagerstown, allowing two runs, four hits and no walks with three strikeouts. He is working his way back from shoulder surgery in July 2009, and July 4 will mark two years since he last pitched in the majors with the Yankees. ... A ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry, who last week won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP.