The Washington Nationals ' postseason chances have taken a serious dent of late, and that may only continue at Citizens Bank Park.
Giving the ball to Gio Gonzalez , however, may improve their chances.
Washington (69-68) looked to be a viable postseason contender after winning 14 of 19, but the team has since dropped three of four.
The Nationals are 7 1/2 games back of Cincinnati for the NL's second wild-card spot with 25 to play.
The offense is letting them down lately, going 5 for 30 (.167) with runners in scoring position. That includes failing to convert on three such opportunities during Monday's 3-2 loss to open this three-game series.
"That was really a tough one; it really hurt," manager Davey Johnson said. "It was like a stab in the heart."
Washington has dropped 11 of its last 15 games at Citizens Bank Park, batting .218 while the rotation has compiled a 4.03 ERA.
Gonzalez (8-6, 3.56 ERA), though, has been a bright spot against the Phillies (63-75), going 4-1 with a 2.31 ERA in six starts. Five have come in Philadelphia, where he's 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA and Washington has won four of those games.
The left-hander, third in last year's NL Cy Young Award voting, was superb in his most recent game there July 10, yielding one run in seven innings of a 5-1 victory.
Following that matchup, Gonzalez went 0-3 with a 5.94 ERA in seven starts before striking out eight and allowing three hits in seven innings of a 9-0 win over Miami on Thursday.
Bryce Harper is likely to be back in the lineup despite nursing a sore hip. He missed 13 games earlier this season due to a left knee injury, and he's batting .368 over the past 15.
"He keeps saying, 'I'm fine, I'm fine.' He's a tough kid," Johnson said. "That's the way he is."
Harper, 1 for 3 in the series opener, has a .352 career average in 14 visits to Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies, who had four hits Monday's win, are slated to give Ethan Martin (2-3, 6.39) his first start against the Nationals.
The rookie right-hander gave up three runs with three walks and nine strikeouts in four innings of an 11-3 loss to the New York Mets on Thursday. That came five days after he didn't get a decision in his shortest outing of the season, surrendering three runs and three hits with three walks while getting pulled with two outs in the opening inning of a 12-7 loss to Arizona.
"I felt pretty decent almost every start," Martin told the team's official website. "Even (pitching coach Rich) Dubee said something. He said around that 60-pitch mark, I kind of have a little struggle in there. I've got to get through that. Hopefully, I can get to that point this year."
Martin is holding opponents to a .213 average the first time through the lineup, but they're hitting .328 with five doubles and six homers the rest of the way.
|August 22, 2013||Ian Desmond||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|August 17, 2013||Taylor Jordan||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|August 13, 2013||Wilson Ramos||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained left hamstring|
|August 11, 2013||Jayson Werth||Day-to-Day||Right knee|
|August 01, 2013||Ross Ohlendorf||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 01, 2013||Ross Ohlendorf||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|August 30, 2013||Domonic Brown||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right Achilles|
|August 28, 2013||Cody Asche||Day-to-Day||Strained left hamstring|
|August 26, 2013||Casper Wells||15-Day DL||Vision complications|
|August 17, 2013||Michael Young||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore left ankle|
|August 15, 2013||John Lannan||60-Day DL||Left knee tendinitis|
|August 14, 2013||John Lannan||Day-to-Day||Knee|
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Still clinging to postseason hopes, the Washington Nationals will take every win they can get.
Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer and Corey Brown also went deep to back Gio Gonzalez , helping the Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 9-6 Tuesday night.
The Nationals remained 7 1/2 games behind Cincinnati for the second wild-card spot after overcoming a sloppy all-around effort that included three errors, four unearned runs and four wild pitches.
"That was an ugly game, one of the ugliest I've seen," manager Davey Johnson said. "That's not the way to win a pennant, I'll tell you that."
Gonzalez (9-6) gave up five runs - one earned - and five hits, striking out six in 5 2-3 innings. The lefty has two straight wins after going seven starts without one.
Ramos connected in the second and the Nationals never trailed. Brown hit a solo shot into the second deck off Luis Garcia in his first big-league at-bat of the season in the seventh to extend the lead to 8-5.
"The first time back there were a lot of emotions going on," Brown said. "I just tried to tell myself to get a good pitch to hit."
Phillies rookie Ethan Martin (2-4) allowed five runs and four hits in 4 2-3 innings. The righty hasn't reached five innings in his last three starts.
"It's frustrating," Martin said. "I'm trying to go as deep as I can and when I can't do that, it's frustrating."
Cody Asche was 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs for Philadelphia.
Rafael Soriano tossed a scoreless ninth for his 37th save in 43 chances.
A crowd of 28,826 was the smallest at Citizens Bank Park since April 3, 2008, when 25,831 turned out for a game, also against the Nationals, according to STATS LLC. That was the last time the Phillies drew under 30,000.
After leading the majors in attendance in 2011-12, the Phillies are fourth in the NL this season. But they're averaging 6,000 fewer people than last year.
Gonzalez faced a lineup missing Jimmy Rollins , Chase Utley and Domonic Brown . Rollins and Utley had the day off and Brown remains sidelined with soreness in his right Achilles.
"I was a little uncomfortable the whole game," Gonzalez said. "They were being patient and I wasn't pounding the strike zone. A win doesn't have to be pretty, but just a win."
Control issues cost Martin. He hit Jayson Werth on the left forearm with a 93 mph fastball leading off the second. After Adam LaRoche 's one-out walk, Ramos drove one out to right-center for a 3-0 lead.
Martin walked three in the fifth, including LaRoche with two outs and the bases loaded to force in a run. Justin De Fratus came in and walked Ramos to force in Washington's fifth run.
Werth and Ian Desmond had RBI singles in the sixth for the Nationals to make it 7-2.
Asche's two-run single in the fourth got the Phillies within one. Kevin Frandsen led off with a single and Carlos Ruiz reached on third baseman Ryan Zimmerman 's fielding error. They advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Asche's hit up the middle.
Shoddy defense hurt Gonzalez again in the sixth. With two outs, John Mayberry Jr. reached on shortstop Desmond's throwing error that scored Darin Ruf . Michael Martinez followed with an RBI single and went all the way to third on catcher Ramos' fielding error. Gonzalez exited and pinch-hitter Utley greeted Ryan Mattheus with an RBI single that cut it to 7-5.
"There's a few cracks in the dam and I'm trying to plug them, but I'm running out of fingers," Johnson said.
NOTES: Nats LF Bryce Harper started running in after catching the second out in the eighth inning before realizing his mistake. He smiled and took some verbal abuse from the remaining fans. ... Denard Span extended his hitting streak to a career-high 16 games with a third-inning single. ... Phillies LHP Mauricio Robles made his major league debut, allowing two unearned runs in an inning. ... The Nationals selected SS Zach Walters and recalled Brown, LHP Xavier Cedeno , INF/OF Jeff Kobernus and OF Eury Perez from Triple-A Syracuse. ... Jordan Zimmermann (15-8) opposes Roy Halladay (3-4) when the teams finish the series Wednesday.
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