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Nats score just fifth win in 19 games

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Preston Wilson and the Washington Nationals
turned to an old formula Wednesday night.

The slumping Wilson homered for the first time in 10 games to
give the Nationals an early lead, and the bullpen sealed the 3-1
victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We haven't been scoring runs. ... We haven't been getting the
lead like we were able to early in the season," Washington manager
Frank Robinson said. "Tonight is a formula we used with the
success we had in the first part of the season."

Washington won for the fifth time in 19 games since the All-Star
break and moved within 4½ games of first-place Atlanta in the NL
East. The Dodgers lost for the sixth time in eight games.

Wilson hit his 18th homer of the season -- the third since
joining the Nationals on July 14 -- in the fourth inning to give
Washington a 2-0 lead. Wilson, who had a first-inning double,
entered the game hitting .220 in 17 games with the Nationals.

"We felt like he's capable of doing it when he walks up to home
plate on any given at-bat," Robinson said. "He gave us a big one
tonight."

Washington first baseman Nick Johnson hit his 11th homer in the
eighth off reliever Giovanni Carrara. The Nationals had hit only
one home run at RFK Stadium in their previous 13 games. They hadn't
had a multihomer game at home since June 30.

Tony Armas Jr. (6-5) allowed one run, four hits and struck out
four over five innings before leaving the game with tightness in
his shoulder. He was diagnosed with tendinitis in his shoulder and
is expected to make his next start.

Luis Ayala pitched two perfect innings in relief, and Mike
Stanton and Gary Majewski combined for a scoreless eighth. Chad
Cordero worked a scoreless ninth to earn his major league-leading
36th save.

"We've been in a rut the last few weeks, but every once in a
while we have a game where we don't make mistakes and guys get the
hits," Majewski said. "It felt like it did in the first half."

Dodgers starter D.J. Houlton (4-5) went six innings, allowing
two runs and five hits, striking out three. Other than Wilson's
homer, only one other runner reached third base against Houlton.

"I make some bad pitches every start, every night," Houlton
said. "Some of them they miss and that was one he hit and he hit
it a long way."

Milton Bradley's homer in the third, his 11th, gave the Dodgers
their only run.

"Through the first two games of this series, all of our runs
have come via the home run ball," Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.
"We were not able to, when we tried to get something going,
sustain it offensively to put ourselves in a position where a base
hit or a gapper could score a couple of runs for us."

Bradley, who also singled and walked, made a key mental error
during the eighth inning, when he batted with no outs after Oscar
Robles had reached on a single. Bradley attempted to bunt against
Stanton, but he popped the ball up, and catcher Gary Bennett caught
it in foul territory. Majewski entered the game and retired both
hitters he faced to end the Dodgers' rally.

"I just overanalyzed the situation," Bradley said. "I thought
I'd try to be a smart guy and try and trick them and lay a bunt
down, move the runner up, possibly get a hit. But the last thing I
expected to do was pop up, and it completely backfired and turned
into a rally killer."

Game notes
The Dodgers had the same lineup for the second straight
game, as Jason Phillips made his seventh start of the season at
first base and Dioner Navarro made his fifth start at catcher. ...
Phillips left the game in the fourth inning with a contusion on his
left hand after being hit by a pitch. ... Before relieving Armas,
Ayala made a rare pinch-hitting appearance in the fifth. Ayala
blooped a single to left for his fourth career hit. After two
scoreless innings of relief, Ayala laid down a sacrifice bunt in
the seventh before leaving the game.