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WSH@PHI: Espinosa's two-run shot puts Nats on top

PHILADELPHIA -- It's safe to say that Danny Espinosa has a good time whenever he faces the Phillies, and Wednesday night was no different as his two-run homer helped the Nationals defeat the Phils, 7-5, at Citizens Bank Park.

Washington, which has won 10 of it past 13 games, has taken the first three games of the series and has a chance to sweep on Thursday night.

The Nationals were down, 3-2, when they took the lead in the sixth inning off right-hander Vance Worley, a teammate of Espinosa's at Long Beach State.

After Michael Morse singled with one out, Espinosa hit a drive over the right-field wall to give Washington a 4-3 lead. It was Espinosa's eighth career homer against the Phillies in less than two years in the big leagues. He is also 25-for-85 (.294) against Philadelphia.

Asked why he has been successful against the Phillies, Espinosa said, "I enjoy it. They have a good team. I think everybody enjoys playing a team like that. There are a lot of people in the stands, it's just a fun game to play."

The home run was also Espinosa's 21st of the season, a club rookie record.

"I enjoy having the record," Espinosa said. "I guess I really didn't think about it during the game. I was thinking we had a lead right now. Let's continue to do it and win this ballgame."

The Nats added to their lead in the eighth, when Espinosa scored on an error by Phils reliever Antonio Bastardo. With runners on first and second, Rick Ankiel bunted the ball toward third base. Bastardo grabbed the ball and threw it past third baseman Placido Polanco for the error.

"When we brought him in, he had two guys on base," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said about Bastardo. "I want to put him in position where he can get some guys out and feel good about himself and run him out there a few times. That's what we'll try to do with him."

Wilson Ramos then drove in Chris Marrero with an RBI single, and Ankiel came home on a sacrifice fly by Jonny Gomes.

The go-ahead runs helped left-hander John Lannan earn his career-high 10th win. It wasn't Lannan's best outing, as he allowed three runs on eight hits in five innings.

Lannan was given a 2-0 lead in the second on a two-run homer by Ramos, but couldn't hold it, allowing RBI singles to Ben Francisco and Worley in the bottom of the inning, an inning in which he allowed five consecutive hits.

An inning later, the Phillies took a one-run lead as John Mayberry Jr. scored on a single by Raul Ibanez.

After Lannan left, Craig Stammen tossed two scoreless innings and Atahualpa Severino made the game interesting by allowing a two-run homer to Mayberry in the eighth. But Todd Coffey and Henry Rodriguez were able to preserve the lead.

Manager Davey Johnson liked the way Lannan battled back to pick up the victory.

"I was really impressed with the way he started the game," Johnson said. "After he gave up a bunch of hits for the second and third inning, he battled back and stayed within himself and gave me a good ballgame. He left with the lead and we were able to hold on to it. It was just an all-around good team effort."

Lannan has had some tough times in Philadelphia. Entering Wednesday's game, Lannan was 0-5 with a 7.40 ERA at Citizens Bank Park. This time, however, Lannan showed he could win in a tough environment.

"I really had some hard times here," Lannan said. "I can't feel sorry for myself. I have to go out throw, make pitches and keep on making pitches. I was able to do that and take one pitch at a time."

The Nationals are showing the Phillies that they can compete with them, unlike the past three seasons. Entering Thursday's season series finale, the Nats have a chance to win the season series. They are 9-8 against Philadelphia.

"It's a fun time," Espinosa said. "It's a fun game to play against them. I want to play them hard because I know we can beat them. We are showing that. For myself, personally, I enjoy playing against the team." Comments