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Phillies-Nationals: Winning Plays Spark Phils Victory

Scott EisenlohrAnalyst ISeptember 9, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 06:  Shane Victorino #8 of the Philadelphia Phillies fields against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on June 6, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Phillies 3-2 in 12 innings.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Philadelphia Phillies were in desperate need of a win and they got it, 5-3, over the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night in the nation's capital.

Sure, five solo home runs, two by Raul Ibanez, helped the Philadelphia cause, but a key play in the game happened in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Pitcher John Lannon's two-out single looked to increase the Nationals' early 2-0 lead to three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. But Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino fielded the ball, threw home and tossed out Wil Nieves at the plate.

Sure enough, the play sparked the Phillies to a win over Washington and it may just lead to another Phils' winning streak.

In the top of the fifth, Ibanez hit his first of two home runs to cut the lead to 2-1. The Phillies took the lead in the top of the seventh inning with home runs by Jayson Werth, Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz, for a 4-2 lead.

A solo home run by Willie Harris pulled the Nationals to one run in the bottom of the seventh. That blast ended starter Pedro Martinez's night with the Phils holding to a one-run lead.

Brett Myers pitched a scoreless eighth. During the commercial break and the Phillies leading 5-3, I texted my buddy: "DON'T BRING IN BRAD LIDGE."

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I don't usually shout and I have been a very recent Brad Lidge supporter.

"I thought the same thing," my friend texted back.

Sure enough, Lidge loaded the bases with one out after allowing a single, a wild pitch,  hitting a batter and a walk.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made the move of the season, when he took Lidge out in favor of Ryan Madson.

Madson, who blew a few saves himself earlier in the season, did something important: he threw strikes.

He collected a strikeout and got a ground out to end the game and the Phillies' losing streak was over.

It all started, I contend, with Victorino keeping the deficit to one run in the bottom of the fourth inning when he threw Nieves out at home.

I tell you, I could feel it in my bones.

If the Phillies got swept or lost two of three to the Nationals, the Mets would eat them up at home and that would spell trouble for Philly's standing in the NL East.

If the Phillies sweep the Nats or take two of three, they will take care of the Mets and win the series at home.

Things would look a lot better for Manuel's boys then.

Tuesday night was the first step.

Brad Lidge's confidence as the team's closer may have been shot on Tuesday night, but getting the win was more important than coddling any one player's feelings.

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