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Ruf hits first career homer to lead Phillies over Nationals

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Associated Press
9/25/2012 11:25:18 PM
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PHILADELPHIA -- Darin Ruf circled the bases, eager to celebrate his first career homer with teammates only to get prolonged silent treatment in the dugout.

Welcome to the big leagues, kid.

Ruf homered for his first major league hit, Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown also went deep and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the playoff-bound Washington Nationals 6-3 Tuesday night.

Cole Hamels (16-6) overcame five shaky innings to set a career high in wins and keep the five-time defending NL East champions from losing ground in the playoff race. Hamels allowed three runs and seven hits, tying his shortest outing of the year.

Philadelphia remained 5 1/2 games behind St. Louis for the second NL wild-card spot. Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Dodgers also are ahead of the Phillies in the standings with eight games remaining.

The Nationals' magic number for winning the NL East remained at five because Atlanta beat Miami 4-3. Their lead over the Braves dropped to four games with eight left.

Ruf earned the nickname "Babe" by leading all minor leaguers with 38 homers this season, breaking Ryan Howard's single-season record at Double-A Reading.

He didn't take long to show his power stroke.

Ruf connected off Ross Detwiler (10-7) in the second inning, turning on an inside pitch and hitting a towering drive out to left-centre. The rookie returned to the dugout to find quiet faces. Players held back smiles and ignored Ruf until the inning ended before congratulating him with high-fives.

"That was very loving of them," Ruf said with a smile. "It's probably for all the times I suggested doing it to somebody in Double-A. I had it coming."

Even the batboy was in on it.

"I tried to give the batboy a (fist) pound and he didn't acknowledge me," Ruf said.

Manager Charlie Manuel enjoyed the scene.

"The batboy really blew him off," he said. "He was looking for somebody to talk to him and he didn't even look at him."

Manuel said "Baby Ruf" will be in the lineup again Wednesday.

"I like Ruf's swing," he said. "I like the way he uses the whole field. I like the type hitter he is."

Fans in left field gave Ruf a standing ovation when he jogged out to his position.

Detwiler (10-7) allowed five runs on five hits in five innings to lose for the first time since Aug. 22.

The Phillies made sure Washington won't pop bubbly on their field this week. The Nationals had to watch Philadelphia celebrate three times in the past five years, but they won't be able to return the favour here.

"We'd like to have celebrated on their field like they did with us," Detwiler said. "I didn't let it happen."

Control problems hurt Detwiler in the third. He walked John Mayberry Jr. and Chase Utley to start the inning. Howard followed with an RBI single on an 0-2 pitch. Ruiz then lined a three-run shot to left to make it 5-1.

"He has such a good fastball that sometimes that's all he wants to throw," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.

Hamels, the 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP, won 15 games in '07. The three-time All-Star hadn't won more than 14 since until now.

This wasn't one of his better outings.

"We just want to play good baseball," Hamels said. "They're going to be doing something special, but we just want to play the game the right way."

Five Philadelphia relievers tossed four innings of one-hit ball. Jonathan Papelbon finished for his 37th save in 41 tries.

Hamels issued a two-out walk to Danny Espinosa in the second. Espinosa stole second and scored on Kurt Suzuki's single for a 1-0 lead.

Bryce Harper hit an RBI single with two outs in the fifth to cut it to 5-2. Harper alertly advanced to second on the throw to the plate and scored on Ryan Zimmerman's single that got the Nationals within two runs.

Brown gave the Phillies a 6-3 lead when he drove Craig Stammen's first pitch way out to right leading off the sixth.

NOTES: Ruf became the 24th player to homer for the Phillies this season, setting a franchise record. The previous mark of 23 was set in 1996. ... The last Phillies player to homer for his first career hit was Mayberry on May 23, 2009, against the New York Yankees. ... Hamels is 13-5 vs. Washington. ... Detwiler is 7-2 vs. NL East teams. ... The Nationals fell to 13-10 in September. They're the only team in the majors with a winning record each month. ... Kyle Kendrick (10-11) faces John Lannan (3-0) on Wednesday night. Lannan is 2-12 vs. Philadelphia.

Kevin Frandsen and Darin Ruf  (Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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