It was less than a week ago that the Phillies hit their low point of the season, but since then they have dramatically changed their fortunes.
With Jimmy Rollins contributing the ninth multi-home run game of his career and A.J. Burnett allowing two runs in 7 2/3 innings, the Phillies defeated the Washington Nationals, 6-2, on Friday night before 30,094 at Citizens Bank Park.
It was the Phillies' fifth consecutive win, tying their season-best streak.
After Sunday's 6-2 loss in Pittsburgh, the Phillies were a season-high 14 games under .500 and were 12 games out of first place.
In winning their last five, they now have chopped four games off the lead and trail the first-place Nationals and Atlanta Braves by eight games in the NL East.
Whether the Phillies can keep chipping away at the NL East co-leaders remains to be seen, but they are clearly a rejuvenated bunch.
All five of the recent wins, four in Milwaukee and Friday night against Washington, came against teams occupying first place.
The Phillies are now 27-15 when scoring first after taking a 2-0 second-inning lead.
Marlon Byrd hit a one-out single, a grounder off the glove of diving shortstop Danny Espinosa and advanced to second on Cody Asche's single to center.
Domonic Brown brought both runners home with a two-run double to center off a first-pitch, 93-mph. fastball.
While Brown has had a disappointing season, he now has 46 RBIs. He entered the game hitting .329 with runners in scoring position, which was tied for 10th in the National League.
The Phillies doubled their lead with Rollins' towering two-run home run to right field in the third. Also scoring was Grady Sizemore, who had his first hit as a Phillie, a single to right.
All the Phillies' early damage was done against Washington righthander Jordan Zimmerman, the Nationals' only all-star representative.
Zimmerman's evening ended with one out and nobody on in the fourth inning and the count 2-2 to Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp.
All of a sudden the medical staff came to the mound and Zimmerman would leave soon after. He was replaced by righthander Craig Stammen. The Nationals didn't release a medical update by the end of the game.
In 3 1/3 innings, Zimmerman allowed four runs (all earned) on six hits.
The Phillies added a run in the sixth on Rupp's RBI double to left. The inning ended on that hit when Brown was thrown out at the plate. Leftfielder Bryce Harper hit cutoff man Espinosa, and the Nationals shortstop nailed Brown.
Harper got one back with a solo home run to right, his second of the season, in the seventh. But Rollins matched that with a homer to right in the bottom of the inning.
Rollins now has 11 home runs after hitting six last season.
Burnett was replaced by Ken Giles with two outs in the eighth after walking his second batter that inning. Giles issued an RBI double to Ryan Zimmerman before retiring Harper on a foul popup.
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