Max Scherzer had 11 strikeouts in eight sharp innings, Wilson Ramos hit a three-run homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 on Wednesday night to complete a three-game sweep.

Ramos had three hits and four RBIs and Danny Espinosa also went deep for the Nationals, who have won four straight. Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper missed his second straight game after bruising his right knee when hit by a pitch on Monday.

Scherzer (6-4) bounced back from a rough start against the Cardinals - five runs in seven innings. He gave up two runs and five hits to earn his sixth win in seven decisions against Philadelphia.

Tyler Goeddel hit a two-run homer for the Phillies, who have lost six straight and 10 of 12. Adam Morgan (1-4) allowed six runs and nine hits in six innings.

Ramos connected in the sixth, driving an opposite-field shot to right for a 5-0 lead. Espinosa hit a solo shot to left one out later.

Daniel Murphy hit a triple and scored the seventh run on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly in the seventh.

Zimmerman ripped an RBI double in the first. Ramos drove in a run with a bloop single in the fourth.

STANDINGS

The Nationals increased their lead in the NL East to three games over the Mets. The Phillies fell under .500 (26-27) for the first time since April 24.

BENCHED

Ryan Howard, the 2006 NL MVP and a holdover from the Phillies' glory days, is close to losing his starting job. Manager Peter Mackanin told Howard he plans to play rookie Tommy Joseph at first base for the next three, four games. Joseph could stay there if he hits. Howard flied out as a pinch-hitter to end the game. He's batting .153 with eight homers and 19 RBIs. He's in the last year of a $125 million contract.

NEW MAN IN TOWN

The Phillies acquired OF/INF Jimmy Paredes from Toronto for cash. Paredes was 4 for 15 for Toronto. He had a career-high 10 homers, 17 doubles and 42 RBIs for Baltimore last season. INF Emmanuel Burriss was designated for assignment to make room for Paredes, who struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Nationals: Harper could return to the lineup at Cincinnati on Friday night.

Phillies: LF/3B Cody Asche was 0 for 4 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's batting .200 while working his way back from an oblique strain.

UP NEXT

Nationals: After a day off, LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.57 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series at the Reds. LHP Brandon Finnegan (1-4, 4.14) goes for Cincinnati.

Phillies: RHP Jerad Eickhoff (2-7, 4.07) starts the opener of a four-game series against Milwaukee on Thursday night. RHP Chase Anderson (2-6, 5.00) takes the mound for the Brewers.

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