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Soriano's offense helps Nationals get past Phillies

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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WASHINGTON -- Alfonso Soriano scored three runs without an official at-bat. On his fourth trip to the plate, he launched his 23rd home run over the left-field fence.

The Washington Nationals have the best record in the majors over the last three weeks, and the explanation starts at the top of the lineup. Soriano's four runs, along with Mike O'Connor's three-hit pitching over six innings, led a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.

"Soriano really was the story," Philadelphia shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "That was his impersonation of Ricky Henderson, I guess. He scored four runs out of their five, stole a bag, caused a balk."

Soriano finished with two walks, a hit by pitch, a stolen base and a seventh-inning solo homer to left. He has homered in 11 consecutive series, the longest such streak in baseball this season and one shy of the franchise record. He is second in the majors in homers and is well into the top 10 in the National League in RBI (46) and runs (48). His 1-for-1 night at the plate raised his average to .310.

"I try to be more patient," said Soriano, who has scored 28 runs in 26 games since taking over the leadoff spot on May 12. "Now I feel very comfortable. I see the ball better."

The Nationals (28-33) opened a season-long, 11-game homestand with their seventh win in eight games. They are a majors-best 15-6 since May 18 and are five games under .500 for the first time since they were 7-12 in late April.

"We're playing as good a baseball as we're going to play, as far the won-loss record is concerned," manager Frank Robinson said. "There's a good feel down there. Everybody comes to the ballpark with a gleam in their eye, with the thought of, 'We're going to win tonight,' not that they we're going to go out here and try and win one -- we're going to win."

O'Connor (3-3) won first for the first time in six starts, even though the rookie has yet to allow more than three runs in any start this season. He never looks spectacular, but he is always effective. Only one of the two runs against him was earned.

"One thing about the kid, he seems to do what he has to do to keep you in the ballgame and hang around," Robinson said. "You'd think the way he pitched, he'd be behind or he'd have six or seven base hits up there, but you look up, it's the sixth inning and he's given up three hits. He was effective, but it wasn't pretty."

It helped that O'Connor was facing a Phillies team that played in Arizona the day before. The Phillies are 5-3 with three games to go on their longest road trip of the year.

"We didn't have good at bats," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I don't like to make excuses, but basically when we were playing the game, our energy didn't show. I felt like we were going to get to their pitcher, although he gutted it out."

Chad Cordero pitched the ninth inning for his 12th save, converting his ninth consecutive save opportunity.

Soriano walked to lead off the first and scored on Nick Johnson's sacrifice fly. In the third, he was hit by a pitch in third and scored on Royce Clayton's double. In the fifth, he walked, stole his 14th base of the season and scored on another double by Clayton, who has a nine-game hitting streak.

Clayton was doubled home by Johnson in the fifth, giving Washington a 4-2 lead and chasing starter Eude Brito (0-2).

The Phillies got on the board when Rollins singled in the third, took second on center fielder Damian Jackson's error and scored an unearned run on Chase Utley's double. Pat Burrell walked in the fourth and scored on Ryan Howard's 54th RBI, a sacrifice fly.

Brito had a busy pitching line in his second start of the season. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowed five hits, four runs and had three walks, two strikeouts, two wild pitches, one balk and one hit batter.

Brito, who has a 10.38 ERA, hasn't made much of a case to keep the spot in the rotation vacated when Jon Lieber went down with a groin injury.

"We've got to make a decision on that, probably," Manuel said. "We've got an off day coming on the 12th. We can do some moving around, but we'll see."

Notes

Philadelphia's Bobby Abreu advanced from first to second in the sixth inning on a rare call: The pitch bounced in the dirt and became lodged in catcher Brian Schneider's chest protector. The umpire ruled a dead ball and awarded the runner one base. O'Connor was assessed with a wild pitch. ... The Phillies had been 8-4 in their last 12 games against left-handed pitchers, but O'Connor was the first one they had seen since, well, O'Connor, who lost on May 29 at Philadelphia.

 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Players of the Game
Washington

A. Soriano
AB 1
R 4
H 1
HR 1
RBI 1
Washington

R. Clayton
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Philadelphia Phillies
Jimmy Rollins, SS4110001 .252
Chase Utley, 2B4011000 .316
Bobby Abreu, RF2010201 .286
Pat Burrell, LF3100103 .261
Ryan Howard, 1B3010111 .293
Aaron Rowand, CF3001002 .288
David Bell, 3B4010002 .262
Sal Fasano, C3000012 .272
   a- David Dellucci, PH1000011 .250
Eude Brito, P2000020 .000
    Clay Condrey, P0000000 .000
   b- Shane Victorino, PH1000001 .317
    Ryan Franklin, P0000000 .000
    Aaron Fultz, P0000000 .000
Totals302524514 
a-struck out for Fasano in the 9th
b-popped out for Condrey in the 7th
Batting
2B - Chase Utley (16, O'Connor)
SF - Aaron Rowand (1)
RBI - Chase Utley (36), Aaron Rowand (22)
2-OUT RBI - Chase Utley (13)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Bobby Abreu 1, Aaron Rowand 1
DP - Rowand-Bell-Utley-Howard, Utley-Rollins-Howard
E - Pat Burrell (1, Misplayed grounder)
Philadelphia Phillies
Eude Brito (L,0-2) 4.2544320 10.38
Clay Condrey 1.1200010 2.03
Ryan Franklin 1211001 5.06
Aaron Fultz 1000010 3.34
HBP - Soriano (by Eude Brito)
WP - Eude Brito 2 (2)
Pitches-Strikes - Eude Brito 87-46, Clay Condrey 19-13, Ryan Franklin 15-9, Aaron Fultz 12-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Eude Brito 4-7, Clay Condrey 1-1, Ryan Franklin 2-0, Aaron Fultz 2-0
Batters Faced - Eude Brito 22, Clay Condrey 5, Ryan Franklin 4, Aaron Fultz 3
Washington Nationals
Alfonso Soriano, LF1411200 .310
Royce Clayton, SS4122001 .266
Jose Vidro, 2B4020002 .321
Nick Johnson, 1B2012101 .300
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B4000013 .265
Marlon Byrd, RF4000000 .221
Brian Schneider, C4020000 .238
Damian Jackson, CF3000022 .240
Mike O'Connor, P2000010 .059
   a- Marlon Anderson, PH1010001 .268
    Saul Rivera, P0000000 .000
    Mike Stanton, P0000000 .000
    Chad Cordero, P0000000 .000
Totals295953410 
a-singled for O'Connor in the 6th
Batting
2B - Royce Clayton 2 (13, Brito, Brito), Nick Johnson (16, Brito), Brian Schneider (6, Condrey)
HR - Alfonso Soriano (23, Franklin)
SF - Nick Johnson (1)
RBI - Alfonso Soriano (46), Royce Clayton 2 (17), Nick Johnson 2 (31)
2-OUT RBI - Nick Johnson (6)
SB - Alfonso Soriano (14, 2nd base off Brito/Fasano)
Team LOB - 5
Fielding
DP - Zimmerman-Vidro-N. Johnson
E - Damian Jackson (6, misplayed grounder)
Washington Nationals
Mike O'Connor (W,3-3) 6321330 3.04
Saul Rivera (H,2) 1100010 1.80
Mike Stanton (H,9) 1100000 3.81
Chad Cordero (S,12) 1000110 2.83
WP - Mike O'Connor (6)
Pitches-Strikes - Mike O'Connor 92-55, Saul Rivera 11-9, Mike Stanton 5-4, Chad Cordero 18-11
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Mike O'Connor 5-10, Mike Stanton 2-0
Batters Faced - Mike O'Connor 24, Saul Rivera 4, Mike Stanton 3, Chad Cordero 4
Game Information
Attendance - 24669
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 80
Umpires - Home - Jeff Nelson, First Base - Derryl Cousins, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Joe Brinkman