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Werth, Gio help Nats gain ground in East

PHILADELPHIA -- Jayson Werth showed Wednesday night that you can come home again. Once a World Series hero with the Phillies, Werth hit two home runs and helped the Nationals roll past the Phillies, 12-2, at Citizens Bank Park. The Nationals swept the three-game series and find themselves on a four-game winning streak.

In the seventh, Bryce Harper added himself to the record books by becoming the second player in Nationals history to hit 40 home runs in a season. Harper became the seventh different player to hit 40 homers in his age 22 season or younger.

Video: [email protected]: Harper launches 378-foot homer for his 40th

"It's been remarkable. He has been fun to watch," Werth said about Harper. "I'm proud of him. He has come a long way in a short period of time. I can't say enough good things about him. He has become a superstar right in front of our eyes. But I think he has a lot to learn and long way to go, too."

The Nationals gained ground for the second straight day in the National League East race. They are now 7 1/2 games behind the Mets.

"I always feel good about our club," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "I feel confident in anybody that we put in there. We have to continue to play well if we are going to have a chance. It starts tomorrow."

The Nationals went to work on Phillies right-hander Alec Asher in the second inning. Werth scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Jose Lobaton. Werth then added to the lead two innings later by hitting a solo home run over the left-field wall.

Video: [email protected]: Statcast™ tracks Werth's 448-foot shot

The Phillies tied the score in the bottom of the fourth when Darin Ruf hit a two-run homer off lefty Gio Gonzalez, who ended up having a quality start. He pitched seven innings, allowed the two runs on five hits and had a career-high 12 strikeouts -- the 13th time in his career he has reached double-digit strikeouts in a game.

"Congratulations to Bryce on his 40th. That's unbelievable. J-Dub [Werth] was unbelievable. Everybody in the lineup helped out a lot," Gonzalez said. "A big credit goes to my catcher [Lobaton]. He mixed it up. He just increased confidence and just slowed it down for me."

Asher went five innings and allowed four runs on seven hits.

The Nationals added two runs on RBI hits from Anthony Rendon and Yunel Escobar, then scored eight runs against the Phillies' bullpen. In the sixth inning, Werth highlighted the scoring with another solo homer. The last time Werth had a multi-homer game was July 22, 2013.

It's a team effort: Besides Werth and Harper, Clint Robinson had a three-hit game and Rendon had two hits and scored three runs in the game. Escobar had a two-hit game before leaving in the eighth inning because of a hamstring injury.

Video: [email protected]: Escobar's knock, Francoeur's error plate two

Asher's struggles continue: It has been a rough time for the rookie right-hander Asher since the Phillies promoted him from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is 0-4 with a 9.78 ERA in four starts. Wednesday night he allowed seven hits, four runs, one walk, one home run and struck out four in just five innings.

"Failure is part of the game," Asher said. "It's frustrating. No one likes losing. I hate it. I'm trying to shorten the learning curve, learn a lot of things and get better." More >

Video: [email protected]: Harper goes down swinging against Asher

Ruf shows some pop: Ruf hit a two-run homer to left field in the fourth inning. It was his eighth homer of the season. Ruf is playing regularly at first while Ryan Howard is sidelined with a bruised left knee. If both are back next season, they could be platooning at the position.

"We've got a lot of young guys that haven't played 162 before," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said. "It's something you've got to learn to get used to."

"We need to win all these games. Pretty much the rest of the way, we're in a must-win situation. It's good to get these games. I feel good. I feel confident, but a lot has to happen, so we need to win every night." -- Werth, on the Nationals' postseason hopes

The Phillies were swept for the 12th time this season, which matches the Braves for the most in baseball this year.

Video: [email protected]: Mackanin on Asher, loss to Nationals

The Phillies challenged Ian Desmond's stolen base in the top of the second inning. Second-base umpire Tim Welke ruled Desmond safe, although replays showed Phillies second baseman Andres Blanco tagged out Desmond before his foot hit the bag. The call was overturned.

Video: [email protected]: Desmond's steal overturned after review

In the fifth inning, Escobar was thrown out at the plate by center fielder Aaron Altherr. But Williams challenged the call and after one minute, 47 seconds, the replay confirmed that Escobar was out.

Video: [email protected]: Review confirms Altherr's throw nabs Escobar

Nationals: The Nationals return to Nationals Park for their final homestand of the year as they play a four-game series against the Marlins starting Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. ET. Tanner Roark will make the start in the first game. Roark allowed two runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings in his last start, a 2-0 loss to the Marlins.

Phillies: The Phillies do not play Thursday, but they resume action on Friday when they open a three-game series against the Braves at Turner Field. Left-hander Adam Morgan (5-6, 4.60 ERA) pitches the series opener. Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (1-3, 3.90 ERA) pitches Saturday and right-hander Aaron Nola (6-2, 4.11 ERA) pitches Sunday afternoon.

Watch every out-of-market regular season game live on MLB.TV.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All theTime. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
Read More: Alec Asher, Darin Ruf, Gio Gonzalez, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper