Cole Hamels wasn't about to give the ball to Charlie Manuel with the game on the line.
He didn't have to.
Hamels threw eight sharp innings, Michael Young hit a two-run double and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Tuesday night for their third straight win.
Hamels (4-11) allowed one run and six hits to win his second consecutive start for the first time this season. The three-time All-Star lefty has struggled in his first full year after signing a $144 million contract extension last July.
Hamels worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth. After a conference with the entire infield and Manuel, Hamels struck out Ryan Zimmerman and retired Jayson Werth on a deep fly to center.
"I said: 'I'm not here to take you out. I just want to look at you,'" Manuel said. "I said: 'You got him.' He grinned and said: 'I got him.'"
An enthusiastic crowd of 33,502 — much smaller than the sellouts that used to be common at Citizens Bank Park — gave Hamels a standing ovation as he walked off the field.
"That was the most exciting eighth inning I've had in a long time, especially with it not being a sellout and it sounded like 60,000 fans were here," Hamels said. "It was awesome."
Werth hit a solo homer for Washington. The defending NL East champs have lost two straight and are only 1½ games ahead of third-place Philadelphia.
The Phillies have won six of their past eight games, including consecutive series victories over first-place Pittsburgh and Atlanta, to move within one game of .500 at 45-46.
Making his third career start, Taylor Jordan (0-2) gave up four runs — three earned — and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. The hard-throwing righty was 9-1 with a 1.00 ERA between Class A and Double-A when the Nats called him up.
"Jordan pitched a good game," Nats manager Davey Johnson said. "We just got stuck on two runs."
Hamels is starting to pitch more like the guy who was the 2008 World Series MVP. He held the Pirates to one earned run in seven innings last Thursday and lowered his ERA to 4.17 with another strong outing.
"I've had success. I know what it takes to have success," Hamels said. "I have to get back to that."
Antonio Bastardo allowed an RBI double to Wilson Ramos with two outs in the ninth, but retired Scott Hairston on a shallow pop to get his second save in five tries. Closer Jonathan Papelbon wasn't available after pitching the previous two games and four of five.
Helped by shaky defense, the Phillies scored three runs to take a 4-1 lead in the sixth. Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins hit consecutive singles to start the inning. Chase Utley followed with a grounder to first, but Adam LaRoche's throw to second hit Rollins in the arm and bounced away for an error. Revere scored to give the Phillies a lead and Rollins went to third.
After Domonic Brown popped out, Young lined a 1-2 pitch to deep right-center, scoring Rollins and Utley.
"We've been playing a lot better," Manuel said. "It goes to show you we can win games when we play good. We're kind of growing."
Werth put the Nationals up 1-0 in the second when he drove one out to left-center. Boos, as usual, greeted Werth as he rounded the bases. Werth has been an unpopular player in Philadelphia since leaving to take a $126 million contract from the Nationals before the 2011 season.
Utley ripped a two-out double in the fourth and Brown followed with an RBI single to right.
Hoping to add some punch to their lineup, Johnson started Hairston in place of Denard Span a day after the Nationals acquired the veteran outfielder from the Cubs. Hairston came in 12 for 30 with five doubles and five homers off Hamels and went 2 for 5 with a pair of singles.
"This is a good-hitting ballpark, but we just couldn't get anything going," Johnson said.
NOTES: Werth's homer gave the Nationals at least one in 86 consecutive series. The last time Washington played a homerless series was a four-game set at the New York Mets on Sept. 12-15, 2011. ... The Nationals are 5-34 when scoring fewer than three runs. ... The Phillies are 23-13 against the NL East, and 10-4 in their past 14 games against teams with winning records. ... Philadelphia called up RHP Luis Garcia from Triple-A and optioned righty Phillippe Aumont. ... Hamels is 10-3 in his past 16 starts vs. Washington. ... All-Star Cliff Lee (10-2, 2.73) faces Gio Gonzalez (6-3, 3.14) on Wednesday night.