Phils slow Nats' march to NL East title; No. is 2

Phils slow Nats' march to NL East title; No. is 2

WASHINGTON -- Phillies rookie right-hander Mark Leiter held the Nationals' offense in check and Maikel Franco launched his 20th home run of the season as Philadelphia edged out a 5-4 victory over Washington at Nationals Park on Saturday evening.

The Nats' magic number to clinch the National League East dropped to two after the Marlins lost to the Braves in Atlanta. A Nationals win on Sunday combined with a Marlins loss would make Washington the first team to repeat as NL East champs since the 2011 Phillies.

Leiter, who entered the contest with a 7.53 ERA on the road, held the Nats to four runs on six hits while striking out eight. Fellow rookie Rhys Hoskins drilled his 14th home run, while Cesar Hernandez picked up three hits for the Phillies to extend his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 20.

Leiter fans Turner

"Those guys across the field have to be thinking, 'How come these guys don't have a better record than that?'" Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of yet another close game against the Nats. "Because we always play them so tough. It's always a close game it seems."

Michael A. Taylor almost brought the Nationals back from a four-run deficit, blasting a two-run home run in the fourth before driving in former Phillie Howie Kendrick with a single in the sixth. The homer was the second in as many days for Taylor, who is now 9-for-15 with five extra-base hits and nine RBIs over his last four games.

"I feel pretty good right now," Taylor said. "I'm just trying to stay relaxed up there, not jump at pitches, try to be selective and barrel up as many balls as I can."

Baker on comeback effort in loss

Pitching on his 34th birthday, Edwin Jackson surrendered five runs in 3 1/3 frames in what resulted in his shortest outing as a National this season. Washington's bullpen combined to shut out the young Phillies the rest of the way, but it fell short as the club's top prospect, outfielder Victor Robles, grounded out with Taylor on second to end the game.

"The bullpen comes in and shuts the game down and allowed us to be able to come back in the game," Jackson said. "But I still feel like if I go out and do my job and I keep the game close, that it's a different situation."

Jackson's K strands bases loaded

Hoskins keeps going deep: It appears Hoskins' historic power display can't be stopped. The rookie got the Phillies on the board in the second inning with a game-tying solo blast to left-center field. The long ball, Hoskins' second in as many days, traveled 384 feet with an exit velocity of 99 mph, according to Statcast™. Remarkably, he's just seven home runs away from tying the team lead.

"I was sitting fastball, still on the fastball," Hoskins said of the homer. "I just got lucky enough that [Jackson] hung the slider a little bit. I had just seen one the pitch before and I thought I saw it pretty good. So it wasn't something that I thought that I had to really keep in mind. I was lucky enough that he hung it just enough, and I was able to get some barrel on it."

Hoskins' solo home run

Taylor's homer closes the gap: Taylor's weekend to remember continued Saturday night with another standout game. A day after hitting an inside-the-park grand slam, the 26-year-old center fielder's latest roundtripper came the more conventional way. With the Nats down, 5-1, in the fourth inning, Taylor got them back in it by launching a two-run, 388-footer to left field. The long ball was his 16th of the season.

Taylor's two-run home run

Hoskins' 14 home runs are the most all-time by any player through 30 career games. The previous best for 14 homers was 35 career games. He also has nearly as many walks (21) as strikeouts (23).

Phillies: The Phillies will send rookie right-hander Ben Lively (3-5, 3.92 ERA) to the mound in Sunday's weekend finale in D.C., with first pitch at 1:35 p.m. ET. This will be Lively's first career start against Washington.

Nationals: Stephen Strasburg returns to the mound as he looks to continue his consecutive-scoreless-innings streak of 26, a Nationals team record. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 36 innings since the All-Star break.

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Oliver Macklin is a reporter for based in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter at @OMacklinMLB.

Daniel Shiferaw is a contributor to based in Washington and covered the Phillies on Saturday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.