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Lee leads Phillies into third test with Nationals

Cliff Lee got the Philadelphia Phillies' crucial homestand off to a winning start last week, creating momentum that has seen the club rip off four victories already on the residency.

Lee goes back at it on Wednesday night aiming for a ninth straight victory in the third contest of a four-game series with the Washington Nationals.

Lee is unbeaten in 12 straight outings, having not lost since May 1 in Cleveland. The All-Star lefty kicked off his club's stay at home last Friday with a 5-4 win over Atlanta, hurling six scoreless frames before getting charged with four runs in the seventh inning while recording just one out.

Lee yielded eight hits and struck out four without a walk, moving to 10-2 with a 2.73 earned run average in 18 starts this season.

"You're playing the Braves, the Nationals, the teams that are ahead of you and they're that much more important because you can gain ground there," Lee said on Philadelphia's website. "We just have to win games, and what the front office does and the decisions they have to make are up to them. It's their job to do that and it's our job to win games."

Lee's current unbeaten run includes a home win over the Nationals on June 18 as he struck out nine over eight innings of two-run ball. That improved the 34-year-old to 6-3 lifetime versus the Washington franchise with a 2.48 ERA in nine games.

Philadelphia has won each of its past three games, including the first two of this set with Washington. The Phils got an excellent start from Cole Hamels Tuesday in a 4-2 victory, with the southpaw yielding just a run over eight innings of work.

Hamels posted wins in back-to-back starts for the first time in 2013, scattering six hits and one walk to go with four strikeouts.

"I know it was hot, but I was able to maintain the energy and intensity level," Hamels said.

Michael Young hit a two-run double, Domonic Brown had an RBI and Chase Utley scored twice for the Phils, who are 4-1 on their homestand and have won six of their last eight overall.

Jayson Werth homered for the Nationals, who have been limited to four runs in this series after erupting for 32 during their four-game win streak prior to arriving in Philadelphia. They now sit six games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East and just 1 1/2 games ahead of the Phillies.

"This is a good-hitting ballpark. We didn't get anything going," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.

Taylor Jordan was tagged for eight hits and four runs -- three earned -- over 5 2/3 frames and took the loss.

Johnson's club will look to rebound Wednesday behind southpaw Gio Gonzalez, who can push his winning streak to four straight starts. His current run follows an 0-1 winless stretch from May 12-June 19, a span of eight outings.

Gonzalez scattered three runs, eight hits and a walk over 6 2/3 innings of an 8-5 triumph over San Diego on Friday, striking out five and moving to 6-3 on the season with a 3.14 ERA in 18 outings.

Gonzalez, 27, did not factor into a 6-2 win at Philadelphia on June 19 despite striking out 11 over seven innings of two-run ball. He is 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five career meetings with the Phillies.

The Phillies own a 5-3 advantage in the season series, taking four of five so far at home.