Rollins leads way as Phils top Nationals for fifth straight

Grady Sizemore greets Jimmy Rollins at home plate after his two-run homer against the Nationals. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)

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 72/3 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.

"This is the reason I came here, for this kind of baseball," Burnett said.

 After Sunday's 6-2 loss in Pittsburgh, the Phillies were a season-low 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.


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 Whether the Phillies can keep chipping away at the NL East co-leaders remains to be seen, but they are clearly a rejuvenated bunch.

When asked if there is a new fire in this team, Rollins didn't hesitate to respond.

"I don't know if it's a fire, but there is something going on and hopefully it is something that turns into a fire," Rollins said.

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. They started by taking a 2-0 second-inning lead on Domonic Brown's two run double. It came on a first-pitch 93-m.p.h. fastball.

"I told myself if I got something up I was going to be ready to hit it," Brown said.

Brown is now batting .338 (26 for 77) with runners in scoring position.

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 Zimmermann, the Nationals' only all-star representative.

Zimmermann'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 went to the mound, and Zimmermann left soon thereafter with an undisclosed injury.

In 31/3 innings, Zimmermann allowed four runs (all earned) on six hits.

The Phillies added a run in the sixth on Rupp's RBI double to left.

Bryce 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 bases-empty homer to right in the bottom of the inning.

Rollins now has 11 home runs, after hitting six last season. He says it's simply a matter of regaining his stroke

"Being able to get to that stroke and catch the ball in the right spot and get flight on it," Rollins said.

 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 pop-up. He closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth.