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Timely hits, strong Gio lift Nats over Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper continues to be a game-changer for the Nationals as he drove in two runs in a 4-1 victory over the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at Nationals Park. The Nationals improved their record to 26-18.

"Being able to get the W was huge," Harper said. "What we did today to get that W -- going on the road right now -- I'm just glad we ended it on a good note in this homestand."

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez had a better outing than he did against the Yankees earlier in the week. He picked up his fourth victory of the season by allowing a run in 6 1/3 innings and striking out seven.

"I just wanted to keep from [going] up in the strike zone, work my way down in the strike zone," Gonzalez said. "The only time I wanted to get up was when I wanted them to chase out of the strike zone, but again, like I said, [Jose] Lobaton did a great job mixing me up and keeping me in the game."

Phillies right-hander Aaron Harang didn't pitch badly, allowing two runs in six innings. But it wasn't enough, as the Phillies saw their record drop to 19-27.


Video: [email protected]: Gonzalez stifles Phillies over 6 1/3 innings

An improved Gio: Gonzalez had a much better outing, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on seven hits and seven strikeouts. The one run scored in the fourth inning, when Freddy Galvis scored on a single by Jeff Francoeur.

"He established a low strike today, which helps with his breaking ball," manager Matt Williams said about Gonzalez. "Establishing the low strike and being able to pinpoint that down and away helped him a lot today. He was good from the first inning."

Williams didn't let Gonzalez complete the seventh inning because Cameron Rupp had doubled in the fifth inning, so Williams let Aaron Barrett and Matt Grace finished the rest of the inning.

"[Gonzalez] was almost at 100 pitches. … I didn't want to get into an inning where we had issues," Williams said. More >

Video: [email protected]: Harang holds Nats to two runs in six innings

More than zero: Harang ran his streak of scoreless innings to 17 before the Nationals pushed a run across in the fourth, moments after Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the frame. Washington opened an inning with an extra-base hit three times. Harang avoided damage in the first, but Clint Robinson scored after his fourth inning double and Yunel Escobar came home for a 2-1 lead following a triple in the fifth. Harper's comebacker in the first whacked Harang on his right hip, but he hung around to throw six innings, allowing two runs and seven hits.

"I thought Harang did a nice job," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "It wasn't his best command. ... Limited the damage. He gave us a quality start and did a good job. We just came up short on the offensive side of things." More >

Video: [email protected]: Zimmerman doubles home Harper in the 7th

Timely hitting by the Nats: Lobaton received a rare start and drove in the game-tying run with a single to center field, scoring Robinson, in the fourth inning. An inning later, after Escobar tripled, Harper grounded out, but Escobar scored on the play and gave Washington a one-run lead. Harper was at it again in the seventh inning, when he singled to left field, scoring Denard Span, while Harper scored the fourth run of the game on a double by Ryan Zimmerman. More >

Stranded: Other than Francoeur's two-out, RBI single in the fourth, the Phillies labored at the plate with runners in scoring position, finishing 1-for-9 overall. Batting after Francouer in the fourth, Cesar Hernandez struck out with runners at second and third base. One-out doubles in the fifth, sixth and ninth innings ultimately led nowhere.

"We knew we would be up for a challenge coming in here," Harang said. "They've been playing us tough all season. Yeah, it stinks to lose a game like that, but obviously they were just a little bit ahead of us."

The Nationals are 19-5 in their last 24 games, their best in a 24-game span since going 19-5 from July 12, 2012 to Aug. 13, 2012.

Phillies: Philadelphia's three-city road swing ends with three games in New York. Severino Gonzalez hopes to continue his run of quality outings against the Mets. Gonzalez (2-1, 7.11 ERA) is 2-0 with 2.70 ERA over his last two big league starts, including a 4-2 victory at Colorado on Wednesday. He will face Bartolo Colon (6-3, 4.85) Monday with first pitch set for 1:10 p.m. ET. The Phillies are 1-5 against the Mets this season.

Nationals: The Nationals travel to Chicago for a three-game series against the Cubs. Game time for Game 1 is at 2:20 p.m. ET. A native of Wilmington Ill., right-hander Tanner Roark will make his first start of the season after spending most of it as a reliever. Last year, Roark was in the rotation and was 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts.

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

Ben Standig is a contributor to and Bill Ladson is a reporter for
Read More: Jose Lobaton, Yunel Escobar, Gio Gonzalez, Aaron Harang, Bryce Harper