PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Throwing too many strikes actually hurt Cliff Lee.
Gio Gonzalez tossed seven sharp innings, the Nationals hit a pair of consecutive homers off Lee and Washington beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 Wednesday night.
Lee (10-3) had allowed nine homers in his first 135 2-3 innings this year before yielding four in a span of eight batters.
"All four I felt were good pitches," Lee said. "When it's hot here, the ball carries. I got to do a better job inducing groundballs."
Anthony Rendon and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back shots off Lee to start the fifth and Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth did it to open the sixth.
Lee allowed four runs and nine hits in seven innings. The All-Star lefty gave up multiple homers in a game once before this season in a 4-2 win over Washington on June 18.
"He throws a lot of strikes so you have to be aggressive early," Ramos said. "He throws strikes so you don't have to wait for one pitch to hit."
Lee threw just 76 pitches, 64 of which were strikes.
"Sometimes when he's like that, nobody hits him," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "His stuff was good. They got four balls airborne and they went out of the yard."
Lee didn't regret any of the pitches he threw for long balls.
"It's my job to throw strikes," he said. "They weren't just strikes, they were quality pitches. They put good swings on the ball. I felt they were decent pitches. It looks bad when they're homers, but a lot of times those are outs."
Gonzalez (7-3) gave up one run and six hits, striking out five to win his fourth straight start. The lefty has eight quality starts in a row.
"I got in a couple jams against a good-hitting team, but the defense came through with some double plays," Gonzalez said.
Darin Ruf hit a solo shot for the Phillies, who failed to reach .500 for the first time since June 7.
The defending NL East champion Nationals, who moved within five games of first-place Atlanta, lost the first two of this four-game set against Philadelphia. The Phillies are 2½ behind Washington.
Rendon lined an 0-2 pitch to left to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead in the fifth. Ramos followed with an opposite-field shot to right.
Zimmerman connected on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth, hitting a towering drive to left-center. Werth followed with a shot to left.
"This park should make you more aggressive," Nats manager Davey Johnson said. "Lee likes to throw the cutter. We were ready for it."
Ruf hit an opposite-field drive to right with two outs in the seventh for his first with the Phillies this season. Ruf had 38 homers at Double-A Reading last year and three more in a brief stint in Philadelphia.
NOTES: Lee has allowed more than three runs in consecutive starts after doing it twice in his first 17 starts. ... The Phillies had won 10 of their previous 14 against the division. They're an NL East-best 23-14 against their rivals, including 5-4 vs. the Nationals. ... Phillies 1B Ryan Howard had surgery on his left knee and will miss six to eight weeks. ... All-Star Jordan Zimmermann (12-3, 2.57) opposes Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick (7-6, 3.90) in the series finale Thursday night.