Bell's Slam Helps Phils Swat Nats

David Bell had just six RBI in August. September is already looking much better; He notched four RBI Friday night in Washington as the Phillies beat the Nationals 7-1 to hang onto their slim lead in the National League Wild Card race.

David Bell had the dubious distinction of having the longest grand slam dry spell among active major league players. He had gone 126 at bats with the bases loaded without a slam until Friday night in Washington. Bell took a 1-0 pitch from John Halama (0-2) and deposited it into the left field seats at RFK Stadium to help the Phillies to a 7-1 win over the Nationals.

"This is a big month for us. We're having fun," admitted Bell. "It's like playing in the playoffs every game."

Jason Michaels also had a big night, picking up three hits and scoring three runs in the Phillies win.

Charlie Manuel mixed up the lineup a little Friday night and it seemed to help. Bell was hitting sixth, instead of his usual seventh, putting him just ahead of rookie slugger Ryan Howard. Chase Utley dropped from third to fifth, with Bobby Abreu reclaiming the third spot and Pat Burrell hitting fourth. Utley (0-for-4) was the only one who didn't really respond to the moves. Abreu and Burrell each picked up two hits with Abreu driving in two runs to give him 86 on the year.

Vicente Padilla (8-12) struggled a little early and left after six innings and 104 pitches. Aquilino Lopez gave the Phillies two shutout innings and Geoff Geary threw a perfect ninth to protect the core of the Phillies' bullpen.

Looking Ahead

Rookie Eude Brito (0-0, 1.59) - making just his second career start - will face the Nationals' John Patterson (8-4, 2.50) in Saturday night's game. Patterson is 1-0, 0.66 in two starts against the Phillies this season. He went just 2 2/3 innings and gave up two runs in his last start against Atlanta, leaving with stomach cramps.

On Sunday, rookie Gavin Floyd will make a start for the Phillies in place of another rookie, Robinson Tejeda. The Phillies will skip over Tejeda who has some soreness in his right shoulder. Esteban Loaiza, who is 0-2, 4.10 against the Phillies, will oppose Floyd on Sunday.

National League East Standings

Team W L PCT. GB
Atlanta 77 58 .570 -
PHILLIES 73 62 .541 4.0
Florida 71 63 .530 5.5
New York 69 65 .515 7.5
Washington 69 66 .511 8.0

NL Wild Card Standings

Team W L PCT. GB
PHILLIES 73 62 .541 -
Houston 72 62 .537 0.5
Florida 71 63 .530 1.5
New York 69 65 .515 3.5
Washington 69 66 .511 4.0

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