Phillies 4, Nationals 3

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Aaron Rowand threw a runner out at the plate, scored the tying run, then hit the winning homer that extended both his own and Philadelphia’s recent hot streak.

Now that Rowand has the Phillies in the thick of the NL East race, he wants to stick around and see how it all plays out.

Rowand’s two-out, solo homer in the eighth inning lifted the Phillies to their fourth straight win, 4-3 over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

“We’re striving to win this division,” Rowand said.

If the Phillies are to catch the New York Mets, they need their center fielder to keep playing like an All-Star. The trade deadline is looming and Rowand has heard his name discussed as potential trade bait to acquire the starter or reliever the Phillies badly need.

Rowand, a free-agent at the end of the season, wants to finish this year in Philadelphia.

“I expect to be here this season,” Rowand said. “If they end up trading me at the deadline, it’ll be a surprise to me. I’m not that worried about it.”

Rowand went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs scored. He hit a 2-2 pitch off Luis Ayala (0-2) into the left-field seats for his 14th homer of the season, sending the crowd of 40,110 into a frenzy.

The Phillies were 8 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Mets on June 2. Now they trail New York by five games and opened a six-game homestand against second-division teams.

As Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said, “We’re not early no more.”

Ryan Madson (2-2) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings for the win, and Antonio Alfonseca worked the ninth for his eighth save.

“We definitely look like we’re together now,” Manuel said.

The Nationals lost starter Jason Bergmann in the third inning with tightness in his left hamstring from running the bases. He walked Chase Utley with one out in the third. Then a trainer and pitching coach Randy St. Claire came out for a visit and soon signaled for the left-handed Billy Traber.

Bergmann allowed a run in the second and gave up Jimmy Rollins’ 20th homer leading off the third that made it 2-0.

Nationals manager Manny Acta said Bergmann was day-to-day.

Rowand saved a run for the Phillies in the third on Ronnie Belliard’s two-out single up the middle. He threw out Bergmann at the plate to end the inning and preserve the 2-0 lead.

“Rowand is having a great year and he had a big night,” Acta said.

Traber was solid in emergency long relief, but left in the sixth after Rowand doubled. Rowand scored and tied the game at 3-all on Pat Burrell’s sacrifice fly off Chris Booker. That was the only run charged to Traber in three innings.

Philadelphia received another average outing from starter Kyle Kendrick. Kendrick, called up from Double-A Reading in June, pitched at least six innings in each of his first six starts but failed to reach the sixth in his last two outings.

He lasted 5 2-3 innings in this one and allowed all three runs in the fourth. With the Phillies leading 2-0, Kendrick loaded the bases on a double, walk and a hit batter. Schneider cleared the bases with a double into the alley in left-center for a 3-2 lead.


Nationals RHP Shawn Hill threw 20 pitches in a live batting practice session for Class A Potomac on Monday. Hill, on the disabled list since May because of a strained left shoulder, is scheduled to throw a two-inning, 35-pitch simulated game on Wednesday. … Phillies C Carlos Ruiz picked off Felipe Lopez at first in the fifth inning. … Rowand’s assist was his 10th of the season and gave Phillies outfielders a major-league best 31.

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