Kyle Lohse gave the Phillies something they've sorely lacked down the stretch. Then Washington helped them move closer to first place.
Lohse became the first Phillies starter to pitch seven innings in two weeks and Philadelphia moved within one game of NL East-leading New York with a 5-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night.
Several players gathered in the clubhouse and ate their post-game meals while watching the Nationals beat the Mets 9-6. The Phillies and Mets have four games remaining.
"It's a lot of fun," Lohse said. "You have a lot of pressure, but you have to block it out."
The Phillies (86-72) haven't spent a day in first place all season and were seven games behind the Mets after losing to Colorado on Sept. 12. One game is their closest margin since Opening Day.
Philadelphia came in one game behind San Diego in the NL wild-card standings. The Padres played at San Francisco later Wednesday.
Lohse (9-12) allowed two runs and six hits, striking out five and becoming the first Phillies starter to go seven innings since Jamie Moyer on Sept. 14.
"He pitched a heck of a game and took us exactly where we needed to go," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Pinch-hitter Shane Victorino hit a solo homer, Greg Dobbs had a key two-run single and Philadelphia took advantage of third baseman Chipper Jones' throwing error to score three unearned runs off Tim Hudson (16-10).
The loss all but eliminated Atlanta from postseason contention. The Braves (83-75) remain alive, but have to win their last four games and get a lot of help to pass Colorado, Philadelphia and San Diego.
"They're a good ballclub. They make the best of what they get," Hudson said of the Phillies.
If the players weren't scoreboard watching, the fans certainly were. They frantically waved their white-and-red "Fightin' Phils" towels and cheered wildly when the Nationals rallied from a four-run deficit to take the lead against the Mets in the fifth inning of that game.
"I kind of knew they were up when you hear the noise," Manuel said.
Mark Teixeira's two-run shot was the only offense for the Braves, who are close to missing the playoffs for the second straight year after winning an unprecedented 14 consecutive division titles.
After Lohse departed, Tom Gordon and J.C. Romero combined for a scoreless eighth and Brett Myers finished with a perfect ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.
Jimmy Rollins hit his 19th triple leading off the bottom of the first, a hard liner to center that just eluded a diving Andruw Jones. With two outs, Ryan Howard delivered an RBI single for a 1-0 lead. Howard hit three homers in consecutive at-bats off Hudson in a game last September in Philadelphia.
Shaky defense helped the Phillies score three times in the third. Chase Utley was hit by a pitch with one out and went to second on Pat Burrell's bouncer to the mound. Hudson could've started an inning-ending double play, but he dropped the ball and settled for getting Burrell at first.
After Howard was intentionally walked, Aaron Rowand hit a sharp bouncer to Chipper Jones, who tried to tag Utley as he ran past. Utley slid in the basepath to avoid the tag and Jones threw wild to first for only his ninth error. Utley scored and the runners advanced to second and third. Dobbs followed with a two-run single to make it 4-0.
"I haven't seen Chipper throw the ball away since maybe never," manager Bobby Cox said.
The Braves quickly sliced the deficit in half on Teixeira's two-run drive in the fourth. Teixeira has 16 homers and 54 RBIs in 50 games with Atlanta.
Victorino, who isn't starting because of a calf injury, hit one into the second deck in right field to put the Phillies ahead 5-2 in the seventh.
Hudson gave up five runs -- two earned -- and eight hits in six-plus innings.
Lohse lasted just two innings and gave up six runs in his previous start at Washington last Thursday. He pitched a scoreless inning in relief against the Nationals on Sunday, getting his side work in during a game to help an overworked bullpen.