PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Preston Wilson homered twice, Livan Hernandez pitched eight strong innings and the Washington Nationals won again on the road, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 6-3 Monday night.

The Nationals, knocked out of first place during a second-half slump, have turned things around away from home and put themselves in contention for the NL wild card. Coming off a three-game sweep in Colorado, Washington won its fourth in a row overall.

Hernandez (14-5) stifled the surging Phillies and showed no effects of the balky right knee that’s bothered him this season. Nick Johnson and Brian Schneider also homered for the Nationals.

After allowing a single to Bobby Abreu in the third, Hernandez retired eight straight batters before another single by Abreu in the seventh. He was wiped out on an inning-ending double play.

Hernandez gave up two runs and five hits. Chad Cordero allowed an RBI single to Mike Lieberthal in the ninth.

The Nationals held a 21/2-game lead in the NL East after an 8-7 win over the Phillies on July 8. The Phillies, though, won the next two games of the series and sent the Nationals into a second-half swoon. They lost 19 of 26 after the All-Star break until arriving in Colorado.

The Phillies also have been wildly inconsistent since the break, though a three-game sweep in San Diego put the finishing touches on a 5-1 road trip and thrust the Phillies back into the wild-card race.

While Philadelphia sports fans might have been too distracted by the Terrell Owens sideshow to notice how well the Phillies were playing, they didn’t exactly get a close look Monday.

Brett Myers (10-6) couldn’t overcome three two-out homers. He gave up five runs, six hits and struck out five in six innings.

Wilson followed a two-out walk in the third with his second homer – a disputed shot to right – that made it 5-2. Abreu instantly protested that a fan reached over the fence and touched the ball. Manager Charlie Manuel came out to argue, and all four umpires huddled before standing by the original decision.

Television replays were inconclusive.

After Myers retired his first two batters, Johnson hit his 12th homer. Jose Guillen singled and Wilson added his 20th homer into the center-field shrubs for a 3-0 lead. Both shots came on 3-1 counts.

Pat Burrell made it 3-2 in the first with a two-run single to left. Guillen’s throw was on target to nail Chase Utley, but Hernandez inexplicably cut the ball off just a few feet from the plate, leaving Guillen and catcher Schneider crouched for several seconds in disbelief.

They had little reason to worry about the Phillies scoring again once Hernandez got rolling. Plus, Schneider added some insurance with a solo homer in the eighth.

Notes: Wilson has his third multihomer game this year. … An MRI showed Guillen has tendinitis in his right elbow. He was moved from right field to left. … Phillies 1B Jim Thome was scheduled to have season-ending surgery Tuesday on his right elbow. … Thanks to a 5-1 road trip and the $1 hot dogs, the Phillies had a walk-up crowd of more than 7,600 fans.

AP-ES-08-15-05 2153EDT

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