With John Lannan set to take the ball for the division leaders Wednesday night, history seems to be on the Phillies' side for another victory.
Philadelphia hopes to continue to make things difficult on Lannan and further delay the Nationals' shot at wrapping up their first East title at Citizens Bank Park.
After dropping two of three to Atlanta over the weekend, the Phillies (78-76) defeated Washington 6-3 on Tuesday to remain 5 1/2 games back of St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card spot with eight to play. Darin Ruf homered for his first major league hit, while Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown also went deep for Philadelphia, which improved to 13-5 since Sept. 5."We just want to play good baseball," said Cole Hamels , who won a career-best 16th game.
The Nationals (93-61) have already secured a playoff spot, and their magic number over Atlanta to win the East is five with eight games remaining. By losing the opener, though, Washington cannot celebrate a division title at Citizens Bank Park, home of the five-time defending East champs. The Phillies clinched three of those titles against the Nationals."We'd like to have celebrated on their field like they did with us," said Ross Detwiler , who gave up five runs in five innings Tuesday.
The Nationals are four ahead of the Braves with eight to play, but extending that advantage could be difficult behind Lannan (3-0, 4.43 ERA), who is set to make his third start since taking over Stephen Strasburg 's slot in the rotation and fifth overall.
In 17 career starts against the Phillies, Lannan is 2-12 with a 5.79 ERA. His .143 winning percentage is the worst of any pitcher that has at least 12 decisions against the Philadelphia franchise dating to 1921.
Countering with Kyle Kendrick (10-11, 3.89) also seems like it should work in the Phillies' favor.
Kendrick gave up two runs and five hits while striking out six in 6 2-3 innings in Friday's 6-2 victory over Atlanta. It was the seventh time in eight starts he permitted two runs or less, which has trimmed his ERA by nearly a run from 4.86."I'm confident in what I have and what kind of pitcher I am right now," Kendrick said.
He's faced the Nationals once during this stretch, yielding two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-2 victory Aug. 24.
Kendrick has typically pitched well against Washington, having gone 2-1 with a 2.21 ERA in his last six starts in the series. He's had Ryan Zimmerman 's number, limiting the third baseman to one hit in 10 at-bats since the start of last season. Bryce Harper , though, is 4 for 7 with a pair of doubles against the right-hander.
Harper had two hits Tuesday, and is batting .370 in seven games at Citizens Bank Park, his highest average at any NL park.
Ruiz, who hit his 16th homer in the opener, is batting .353 with one homer in 17 at-bats against Lannan since 2009.
Lannan was roughed up in the second game of last Wednesday's doubleheader with the Los Angeles Dodgers , permitting six runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings in a 7-6 loss, but didn't get the decision. The left-hander had posted a 2.41 ERA in winning his previous three starts.
|September 12, 2012||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Torn cuff and bone bruise in left wrist|
|September 03, 2012||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right thumb|
|September 02, 2012||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Sore hamstring|
|August 24, 2012||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Strained right hamstring|
|August 24, 2012||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Left game - right hand contusion|
|August 13, 2012||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Sore right ankle|
|September 05, 2012||Placido Polanco||15-Day DL||Lower back inflammation|
|August 31, 2012||Raul Valdes||15-Day DL||Torn meniscus in right knee|
|August 29, 2012||Cole Hamels||Day-to-Day||Gastrointestinal illness|
|August 29, 2012||Vance Worley||15-Day DL||Loose bodies in right elbow|
|August 28, 2012||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - left knee soreness|
|August 24, 2012||Brian Schneider||15-Day DL||Strained left hamstring|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Seeing Jayson Werth quiet a hostile crowd pleased Bryce Harper more than his own latest accomplishment.
Harper hit his 20th homer, Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki also connected and the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 8-4 Wednesday night to move closer toward winning their first division title since moving to Washington.
The Nationals reduced their magic number in the NL East to four, holding a four-game lead over Atlanta with seven remaining.
The 19-year-old Harper joined Tony Conigliaro as the only teenagers to reach 20 homers in big league history.
"That doesn't mean very much to me," Harper said.
Harper was more excited about Werth's in-your-face two-run single in the ninth that extended Washington's lead to 7-4.
Werth, jeered in Philadelphia since leaving the Phillies in free agency after the 2010 season, drew loud boos in the on-deck circle after he picked up a foul ball and faked tossing it into the stands.
The boos grew louder when Werth came up to the plate. Rookie pitcher Justin De Fratus then earned cheers for throwing a fastball high and tight to Werth, who got an earful throughout his at-bat.
Werth got the last laugh with his hit up the middle. Harper added an RBI triple.
"It gave me a chill after the fans were going crazy with all that booing," Harper said. "That was huge. He's been doing that all year for us."
John Lannan (4-0) gave up two runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings to win his second start since taking Stephen Strasburg 's spot in the rotation. Strasburg, the All-Star righty, was shut down after reaching his innings limit.
The Phillies, who closed to within three games of St. Louis for the NL's second wild-card spot following a late push, are on the verge of elimination. The five-time defending NL East champions are 5 1/2 games behind the Cardinals with seven left.
"We've been pushing real hard and it's catching up to us," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Kyle Kendrick (10-12) got roughed up, allowing five runs and five hits in two-plus innings.
Jimmy Rollins hit a solo homer, snapping an 0-for-19 slump. But the Phillies couldn't overcome a 5-0 deficit.
Kendrick walked Werth on five pitches to start the game and Harper drove the first pitch he saw 411 feet to deep left-center for a 2-0 lead. Harper matched the feat of Conigliaro, who hit 24 home runs for the Boston Red Sox in 1964.
"That's nothing new to me," Nats manager Davey Johnson said about Harper. "I saw him hit a 500-foot homer when he was 14 years old. The thing is he thinks he should be hitting .400."
Desmond connected leading off the second, hitting his 25th homer way out to left-center to make it 3-0. Steve Lombardozzi then reached on second baseman Chase Utley 's fielding error and Suzuki followed with a shot out to left to put the Nationals up 5-0.
Kevin Frandsen hit a one-out double in the third to get the Phillies going. He scored when Suzuki threw wild to third on reliever B.J. Rosenberg's sacrifice.
Lannan then pitched out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam by striking out Ryan Howard and retiring Carlos Ruiz on a grounder to the mound.
"Any time you can come in here and get a win, it's very satisfying," said Lannan, who improved to 3-12 against the Phillies.
Frandsen hit a two-out triple in the fourth and scored on Rosenberg's single up the middle in his first official at-bat in the majors.
Rollins hit his team-leading 23rd homer off Ryan Mattheus in the seventh.
Domonic Brown 's sacrifice fly off former closer Tyler Clippard cut it to 5-4 in the eighth. Clippard fanned Frandsen to leave the tying run on third.
NOTES: Roy Halladay felt fine after a bullpen session and will start on Friday for the Phillies. There was a possibility Halladay would be shut down after experiencing spasms near his shoulder blade last week. ... Nationals are 14-4 when Harper goes deep. ... Desmond is 9 for 20 off Kendrick. ... Ruiz received the Mike Schmidt MVP Award given annually by the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Cole Hamels got the Steve Carlton MVP pitcher Award, Rollins received the Dallas Green Special Achievement Award and Juan Pierre got the Tug McGraw True Pro Award. ... Gio Gonzalez (20-8) tries to strengthen his bid for the NL Cy Young Award in the series finale against Philadelphia rookie Tyler Cloyd (2-1).
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