PHILADELPHIA -- Washington's new team played like Montreal's old one.
Terrmel Sledge homered and drove in three runs for the Nationals, who moved during the offseason after 36 mostly losing years as the Montreal Expos. Washington, which hadn't had a major-league team since the expansion Senators left for Texas following the 1971 season, plays its home opener April 14 against Arizona.
"We just haven't played a game that means something before the home crowd," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "It's a nice situation. We feel good about it. To get the first one that means something under your belt on the 14th would be a nice accomplishment."
Lieber allowed three runs and 10 hits to win in his first start since losing Game 6 of the AL Championship Series for New York against Boston. Lofton, who also played for the Yankees last season, reached four times and scored twice, and Pat Burrell had three hits and two RBI, helping manager Charlie Manuel win his debut with Philadelphia.
Lieber and Lofton were the only significant offseason additions for the Phillies, who missed the playoffs for the 11th straight year and cost manager Larry Bowa his job after the team entered last season as the NL East favorite.
"The first game is extra special," Lieber said. "You want to make a good impression. Hopefully that happened."
After three years in limbo as the Expos, playing before sparse crowds at Olympic Stadium and traveling to "home" games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the Nationals have a new home and uniforms. They came out wearing gray jerseys with "Washington" in block letters across the chest in red, blue and gold.
Brad Wilkerson led off the game with the Nationals' first hit -- a bloop single to right-center field. Sledge had the first RBI on a groundout to second in the second inning. Sledge hit a two-run homer off Lieber in the sixth, but grounded into a double play against Ryan Madson with the bases loaded in the seventh.
Cheers of "Let's go, Nats!" were heard among the sellout crowd of 44,080 at Citizens Bank Park when Washington scored in the second to take a 1-0 lead.
"It was good to hear that, but you don't get caught up in it," Robinson said. "You keep your mind on what's going on in the field and what you're trying to accomplish. But it's nice to hear the fans cheering behind you. It's something we haven't heard in three years."
The Phillies quickly came back against loser Livan Hernandez in the bottom half of the second.
After Mike Lieberthal's RBI groundout to first base tied the game at 1, Lieber put the Phillies ahead with a sacrifice fly that sent right fielder Jose Guillen scurrying to the warning track.
Burrell had an RBI double in the third and a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and Lofton lined a three-run shot into the right-field seats to make it 7-1.
"I just try to be myself and not do anything different," Lofton said. "You have to keep it simple."
Hernandez gave up seven runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings.
"I'm going to be ready for next time," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy to put my head down."
Four Phillies relievers held the Nationals to one run and three hits over the last 3 1/3 innings.
- The Phillies are 56-65-2 in season openers. They hadn't opened the season at home since 1996 and hadn't won a season opener at home since 1980.
- Lieber hadn't driven in a run since June 26, 2001, when he was with the Chicago Cubs in a game against the Mets.
- The three sacrifice flies by the Phillies tied a team record.
- Each of the Nationals' starters, including Hernandez, had a hit.
- Wilkerson struck out three times.