PHILADELPHIA -- Having entered the take-care-of-your-own-business portion of the schedule, Jayson Werth did just that with one swing. Hopping from the batter's box, Werth cheered the ball in its fight against a tough wind for the left-field seats. The ball won, delivering a 5-4 Phillies win over the Nationals on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. "I hit it really well," Werth said. "It did the job."
Though slumping with the rest of the offense, Werth shook off a .208 August batting average and clobbered Steve Shell's hanging curveball in the eighth inning. A swirling wind that batted down balls all night relented momentarily, as Werth's career-high 17th home run of the season landed a few rows beyond the flower bed. Brad Lidge made the solo home run hold up, pitching the ninth inning for his 31st save. Less than 30 minutes later, Atlanta's Brian McCann flied out to Carlos Beltran, maintaining New York's 1 1/2-game advantage. It was shown on two of the four clubhouse televisions, but no player was caught peeking. There was no reason. With 37 games left, the Phillies need to stay close, and then pounce. On Aug. 19, 2007, they were 65-58 and five games back. This year, they're 67-58. "We're still behind, so I can't say we feel comfortable, but it's closer," Jimmy Rollins said. "We know that if we keep winning, if they slip up at all, we'll be able to run 'em down, and hopefully stay ahead this time. But we have to do the first part." They did the first part on Tuesday by rescuing Joe Blanton from a 4-1 hole, after the righty allowed four runs in five innings, struggling through a second straight outing. Philadelphia took advantage of poor Washington defense in the fifth, when left fielder Willie Harris dropped an easy fly ball hit by Greg Dobbs that would've been the first out of the inning. Instead, it was a run in -- Shane Victorino, who had tripled, scored -- and Dobbs on first. He eventually scored, getting the Phillies to within a run. Victorino scored the tying run in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Chris Coste, the Phillies' third sacrifice fly of the night. Werth won it with a big fly ball, allowing an offense that has batted .200 in four games to win three of them. "A win's a win," Werth said. "Our objective every night is to go out and beat the other team. There's no 10-run rule or anything. It's just wins and losses. We'll take it. We're a lot better club than we've been playing. Everybody knows that. We're 1 1/2 games back. It seems to me like everybody is making it seem like we're out of it. The reality is that we're 1 1/2 games out and have six weeks to play. I feel we're the best team in this division, and we just need to go out there and play like it."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.