Abreu drives in winning runs for Phillies

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- For a Philadelphia team that's missed the postseason for more than a decade, playoff-tested closer Billy Wagner offered advice on what it's really all about.

"I just tell them, 'You think this is fun, wait until we get into the playoffs,'" Wagner said. "I also turn around and go, 'You think this is pressure, wait until you get into the playoffs.'"

The NL wild-card leaders want to see for themselves.

Vicente Padilla kept up his recent run of outstanding starts, Bobby Abreu delivered a key double and the Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 2-1 on Thursday in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.

The victory put the Phillies into the NL wild-card lead. They began the day tied for the spot with Houston -- which hosted Milwaukee at night -- and a half-game ahead of Washington.

The playoff push is on and the Phillies like where they're going.

"I don't think the young guys understand yet what they're getting in to," said Kenny Lofton, another playoff veteran.

After such an awful first half that he was nearly pulled from the rotation, Padilla (6-11) has perhaps been the best Phillies starter the last two months. He gave up one run and six hits in six innings, holding the lead after Abreu's two-run double in the third.

Ryan Madson and Ugueth Urbina each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, and Wagner worked the ninth for his 29th save in 31 chances.

The Phillies also sealed their win against Washington a night earlier with the Madson-Urbina-Wagner combination and they hope to ride that trio to their first postseason appearance since 1993.

"You see us having a lot more fun and that's something this team has obviously needed for a couple of years," Wagner said.

Tony Armas Jr. (7-6) gave up five hits and walked six in five-plus innings.

Jimmy Rollins and Lofton opened the Phillies third with singles. An out later, Abreu lined his 25th double of the year to straightaway center for a 2-1 lead.

Padilla was 3-8 with a 6.69 ERA after a July 1 loss to Atlanta and manager Charlie Manuel talked about the right-hander running out of time to keep his turn in the rotation.

Padilla turned his season around, winning for the third time in his last eight starts. While that may not seem particularly impressive, he's kept the Phillies in games by allowing three earned runs or less in those outings. In three of those starts, he allowed no runs.

His second-half hot streak has been truly unexplainable -- Padilla chooses not to speak to the media.

"Once he saw we were going to stick with him, I think that helped," Manuel said. "I think he looked around and saw his team wanting to win and he wants to be a part of it."

The Nationals touched Padilla for a run in the second, taking a 1-0 lead on Cristian Guzman's RBI single. Washington had the bases loaded with none out, but Padilla got out of the jam, retiring the next three batters on a strikeout, a shallow fly ball and a

"We can't get anybody to stick their nose in there and get a big base hit," Nationals manager Frank Robinson said. "It's important that we get some of these people in scoring position home. We've had the opportunities to break games open, but we're not doing it."

Robinson pulled Armas with no outs in the sixth, a runner on first and an 0-2 count on pinch hitter Endy Chavez. Chavez reached against Mike Stanton on a throwing error by first baseman Nick Johnson.

Game notes
A rainout Tuesday caused the doubleheader. ... The Phillies were to send Cory Lidle (9-10, 4.61 ERA) to the mound against Washington's Ryan Drese (3-6, 4.69) in the second game. ... Manuel said he'll likely give left-hander Eude Brito the start against Pittsburgh on Sunday. Manuel said it was still too early in the season to bring back Wednesday night's starter Jon Lieber on three days' rest. ... This was the fourth doubleheader in the two-year history of Citizens Bank Park. Padilla won the first game in two others.