Utley gives Phillies first lead of series (LaRoche homers, Nats win 4-2)

The Phillies have lost five in a row and needed to at least start off their final game of the series with the Nationals well.

Veteran Chase Utley answered the bell.

In the top of the first, following a leadoff double by Ben Revere and a sacrifice that moved him to third, Utley delivered a run-scoring single past starter Doug Fister into center field to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead, their first of the series.

Fister got out of the inning without any further damage. He is seeking his fourth consecutive win and has won his only other start against the Phillies, an eight-inning gem last August with the Tigers in a 2-1 Detroit win at Comerica Park.

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick has been going through a prolonged rough stretch, losing 10 of his past 11 decisions over an 18-start span.

In the first inning with one out, the Nationals got an infield from Anthony Rendon on a grounder to short. A Jayson Werth dribbler in front of home plate got Rendon to second and Adam LaRoche walked.

Left fielder Ryan Zimmerman then smacked a clean single to left, scoring Rendon from second, and the game was tied 1-1.

Update: The Nationals hit the ball hard in the fifth against Kendrick, taking the lead.

Denard Span led off with a double. He reached third thanks to a long drive by Rendon that was caught at the center field fence by Ben Revere. Werth then smacked a single to center field and the Nationals led 2-1.

LaRoche then crushed his eighth homer of the season, a two-run shot into the Nationals bullpen in right field and the lead was extended to 4-1.

Update II: John Mayberry Jr. hit a solo homer in the seventh, cutting the Nationals’ lead to 4-2.

Span now has 16 doubles on the season in 234 plate appearances. That marks the sixth time in his seven major league seasons he has hit at least 16 doubles. His career high is 38 doubles in 2012 with the Twins.

Update III: Fister went seven innings, allowed four hits, two runs (both earned) with no walks and struck out five batters. He threw 93 pitches, 63 for strikes. It is the second straight start he has allowed four hits or fewer. He has walked only two batters in six starts.

In the ninth, Jose Lobaton was called out at first on a grounder over the pitcher’s head that Jimmy Rollins fielded and threw to first. The call was challenged by the Nationals. Video replay review overturned the call. The estimated delay was three minutes, 13 seconds.

Rafael Soriano came on in the ninth and recorded his 12th save. The second out was a swinging strikeout of Ryan Howard.

The Nationals defeat the Phillies 4-2, sweeping the series.

The Nationals are 26-2 when they score four or more runs in a game. They are 30-28, the first time they have been two games above .500 since May 21.

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