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Ramos leads Nationals' victory

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Catcher Wilson Ramos, who has started 23 games in a row, is not sure when he will get a day off behind the dish for the Washington Nationals.

The way he has been hitting makes it difficult for manager Davey Johnson to use someone else back of the plate.

Ramos had four run-scoring hits and a career-high five RBIs, and pitcher Jordan Zimmermann won his league-leading 18th game as the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 11-2 Sunday to help their slim playoff chances.

Ramos has the longest streak of consecutive starts for a catcher in the majors this season.

"I do what I can do. I lost two months and a half," said Ramos, who missed a lot of time with a hamstring injury early in the season. "If I stay healthy all year, I can do better (in 2014). The season is not over yet. Hopefully I have more games coming."

Ramos hit a long solo homer to give the Nationals a 6-2 lead in the sixth. It was the 15th homer of the season for Ramos, who set a Nationals' record for homers by a catcher as he went deep for the sixth time in 12 games.

"He's a horse. All through this (streak), he has been hitting the heck out of the ball," Johnson said. "He's durable. It can be grueling, but the good news is, it hasn't been that hot. He is strong as a mule. He is fun to watch."

The Nationals, who had 18 hits, begin a series with Atlanta at home Monday, and Johnson is not sure if he will give Ramos a day off during the three-game set. Washington is 4 1/2 games back of the Reds for the second wild card spot in the National League after Cincinnati lost on Sunday to the Brewers.

"He is still blocking everything and calling a good game," Zimmermann said of Ramos.

"I hate to take that bat out of the lineup," said Johnson, in his last season as Washington manager.

On top of that the Braves could clinch the division title while in Washington, the defending East champ.

"We don't want," Johnson said.

Zimmermann (18-8) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings for Washington as the right-hander improved to 11-3 this season at Nationals Park. Every Washington starter had at least one hit, including Zimmermann.

Washington (79-70) won for the eighth time in nine games, while the Phillies (69-80) fell to 28-46 on the road.

The Nationals scored five runs in the seventh to blow the game open as Ian Desmond and Ramos had two-run singles and Denard Span drove in a run to make it 11-2. Span had two hits and has a hitting streak of 26 games, the second-best mark in the majors this season.

Jayson Werth gave Washington a 5-2 lead with an RBI single in the fifth against starter Tyler Cloyd (2-5), who gave up five runs in four innings.

"Cloyd was pitching well through three innings, and they put hits together in the fourth, put a crooked number up there and it was tough stopping them after that. They were a team that was swinging the bats well before we got here, coming into the series, and they showed that today," said Ryne Sandberg, the interim Philadelphia manager.

Desmond, Ramos and Zimmermann had RBI hits in the fourth as the Nationals took a 4-2 lead. The double by Desmond scored Bryce Harper (three runs), who had two doubles and a single.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second on a sacrifice fly to left by Kevin Frandsen. Washington tied the game a 1-1 in the second on an RBI single by Ramos.

Chase Utley had an RBI groundout in the third to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.

NOTES: LF Harper threw out Darin Ruf at second in the sixth inning as he tried for a double. It was the third assist in two days for Harper, who has 13 assists this year. ... Phillies LHP Cliff Lee (13-6, 2.97 ERA) will face RHP Sam Dyson (0-0, 4.50) in the series opener on Monday against the Miami Marlins. ... Washington will begin a series with the first-place Atlanta Braves on Monday, and RHP Dan Haren (9-13, 5.02) of the Nationals will face LHP Mike Miner (13-7, 3.15). ... Span leads the Nationals with 15 three-hit games. ... Phillies lefty reliever Jake Diekman has allowed left-handed hitters just three hits in their last 38 bats (.079) in his last 23 outings.
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