PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Ryan Howard hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth inning, and pinch-hitter Ramon Martinez drove in the tiebreaking run in the 12th to lift the Philadelphia Phillies to a 5-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.

David Bell hit a one-out single to center off Sun-Woo Kim (1-2) in the 12th and went to third on Todd Pratt’s single. Jason Michaels flew out and Jimmy Rollins was intentionally walked to load the bases.

Martinez, who had only nine at-bats for the Phillies since he was acquired on June 11 from Detroit, chopped a grounder into left to end the game that lasted 4 hours, 1 minute.

That made a winner of Rheal Cormier (3-2), who gave up two hits in two innings.

Kim allowed four hits in 2 2-3 innings.

The Phillies won their first series since they swept a three-game set from Milwaukee on June 10-12. They also won consecutive games for the first time since June 16-17.

The Nationals lost for the fifth time in seven games, but still enter the All-Star break 53-36 and in first place in the NL East.

Washington had its chances against Philadelphia’s bullpen in extra innings, but the Nationals stranded two runners in both the 10th and 12th innings.

The Phillies trailed 4-2 in the eighth when reliever Gary Majewski gave up a one-out walk to Chase Utley. Howard followed with his third homer of the year, clearing the 401-foot sign in center with a shot that landed in the shrubs.

Washington’s Esteban Loaiza was steady but hardly exceptional in his six innings, striking out six and walking five.

The Nationals led 3-0 following Jose Guillen’s 18th homer in the fourth, a two-run shot to left.

Loaiza ran into his only jam in the fifth, giving up consecutive hits to Rollins and Kenny Lofton, then walking Bobby Abreu to load the bases. Rollins scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2, but the right-hander struck out Pat Burrell and Chase Utley to end the threat.

Washington made it 4-2 when Ryan Madson’s wild pitch in the seventh scored Jamey Carroll, who had singled.

Jon Lieber’s monthlong swoon continued for Philadelphia. The Phillies starter allowed seven hits, struck out six and hasn’t won since beating Texas on June 7.

He had a no-decision in his last start at Pittsburgh after getting hit in the elbow on a line drive that forced him out in the first inning.

What a difference it’s been for last year’s Montreal Expos, who were 31-56 and 15 games out of first place at the 2004 All-Star break. With spirited crowd support that’s contributed to the best home record in the National League (30-13), the Nationals have been one of baseball’s biggest surprises of the first half.

Last season’s Expos lost 95 games and finished 29 back in the standings. This year’s team is aiming to show the first half was no fluke.

Leading the division at the break is no guarantee of a successful season, of course. Just ask the Phillies who led the NL East at the break last year, then finished 10 games behind Atlanta.

Notes: Washington RF Jose Guillen seemed to hurt his left ankle or foot during a hard swing in the sixth inning. After a brief delay, Guillen finally strapped a shin guard to his lower leg. Then Washington manager Frank Robinson and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel started shouting at each other across the field, with Manuel coming out of the dugout to argue with the home plate umpire. After all the commotion, Guillen struck out looking on the next pitch. … Nationals C Brian Schneider left the game after complaining of dizziness.

AP-ES-07-10-05 1755EDT


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