Phillies 6, Nationals 3

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The bottom of the order is carrying the Philadelphia Phillies while their big guys struggle.

Wes Helms drove in the go-ahead run with a single in a three-run eighth inning to lead the Phillies to their fourth straight win, 6-3 over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

Antonio Alfonseca (1-0) pitched a scoreless eighth, and Tom Gordon worked the ninth for his fourth save in six chances.

“We got some clutch hits,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I like the way we swung the bats with two strikes.”

Nationals starter Jason Bergmann allowed two runs—one earned—and three hits in six innings, leaving with a 3-2 lead. But Aaron Rowand hit reliever Saul Rivera’s second pitch into the left-field seats to tie it at 3 in the seventh.

Chase Utley was hit by a pitch from Micah Bowie (0-1) leading off the bottom of the eighth. After Bowie struck out Ryan Howard, Jon Rauch came in to face Pat Burrell, who walked. Helms followed with a single to right-center that scored Utley to make it 4-3. Burrell scored when third baseman Ryan Zimmerman let center fielder Ryan Church’s throw get past him for an error. Carlos Ruiz drove in another run with a two-out single.

While Utley (.250) and reigning NL MVP Howard (.207 with only two homers) are off to slow starts, Burrell (.339), Helms (.308) and Rowand (.371) have picked up the slack for the Phillies (8-11).

“That’s what we have to do when our big guys aren’t hitting,” Helms said. “That’s what this lineup can do.”

The Phillies haven’t lost since Manuel called a team meeting in Cincinnati before Saturday’s game.

“I think it’s the way Charlie went about it,” said starter Jamie Moyer, who allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. “Some managers come in and tear up the room. Charlie just spoke and left the meeting to us and then we spoke. It forced people to take a step back and see what their priorities are.”

The Phillies had just one hit before Utley doubled to left-center with two outs in the sixth. Howard walked and Burrell followed with an RBI double down the left-field line to cut it to 3-2.

Austin Kearns tripled to start the second for Washington. His sinking liner was misplayed by Rowand, who made a diving attempt in center field and allowed the ball to skip past. Church followed with an RBI double off the scoreboard in right-center for a 1-0 lead.

Felipe Lopez led off the third with a single, and scored on Ronnie Belliard’s double down the left-field line to make it 2-1.

Rowand’s two-out double in the second scored Helms, who reached on first baseman Dmitri Young’s fielding error.

The Nationals went ahead 3-1 in the sixth on Brian Schneider’s two-out single. Kearns doubled to start the inning and advanced to third on Church’s fly out to right field. Moyer retired Michael Restovich on a check-swing grounder back to the mound, but Schneider delivered a clutch hit with Bergmann up next.

“Baseball is like boxing. If you don’t hit, the other guy is going to hit you back,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

Notes

Rowand has a 12-game hitting streak. … The Phillies were 0-7 when trailing after six innings. The Nationals were 4-0 when leading after six. … Moyer took a shutout into the ninth inning in a 4-2 win at Washington last Thursday.

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