The Phillies’ offense is suddenly looking good again, led at the top of the order by the hot bat of Shane Victorino.

Victorino drove in three runs last night, including one that came on his seventh home run of the month. He is hitting 327/370/624 in July and has hit six home runs in his last 54 at-bats. His .994 OPS for the month is the best among the Phillies’ hitters (but not by much — Howard is hitting 306/364/622 (.987 OPS) in July) .

Victorino and Utley combined to drive in five of the eight runs the Phillies scored last night. Utley homered for the second straight game and Jamie Moyer was solid enough. After a rough first inning, Moyer put up five scoreless frames and the Phils cruised behind a five-run fifth inning.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals last night, winning 8-5 to improve to 58-49 on the season. It was the fourth straight win for the Phils and with the win they have reclaimed the lead on the NL East. They lead the Mets by half a game.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks. Five of the hits went for extra-bases, three doubles and two home runs. He struck out five.

Moyer started the first with a 2-0 lead. Willie Harris hit his first pitch of the game out to right. 2-1. Moyer got the next two before Austin Kearns doubled to left. Jesus Flores was next and he hit a 2-0 pitch out to left to put Washington up 3-2. Ronnie Belliard doubled before Paul Lo Duca flew to center to end the inning.

Moyer threw a 1-2-3 second.

He walked Ryan Zimmerman with one out in the third. Moyer struck out Kearns for the first out before Flores flew to center to set the Nats down.

Belliard led off the fourth with a walk. Lo Duca flew to center and Felipe Lopez struck out swinging as Belliard was caught stealing to end the inning.

Moyer started the fifth up 7-3. Harris doubled with one out and moved to third when Jenkins misplayed the ball in right for an error. Lastings Milledge grounded back to the pitcher for the second before Moyer walked Zimmerman. With men on first and third and two down, Kearns grounded to short to leave the runners stranded.

Flores led off the sixth with a single to left and Burrell threw him out at second as Flores went for two with his team down four runs. Moyer got the next two.

Madson started the seventh up 8-3. Lefty Kory Casto hit for pitcher Steven Shell and singled to left to start the inning. Pete Orr was next and hit a ground ball to first that Howard fielded and threw to second to force Casto for the first out. Harris followed with a double, his third extra-base hit of the game, moving Casto to third. Milledge grounded to short and Orr scored, cutting the Phils’ lead to 8-4. Zimmerman hit a ball to the warning track in left. Werth fell down and didn’t catch it — the ball bounced on the track and over the fence for a ground-rule double that scored Harris and made it 8-5. Kearns grounded to second for the third out.

Durbin pitched the eighth. He walked Belliard with one out but got Lo Duca to hit into a double-play behind him.

Lidge pitched the ninth. Pinch-hitter Ryan Langerhans led off with a double, but Lidge got the next three behind him.

Durbin continues to see a lot of time in the eighth inning. Madson got a tough break with Werth falling down on the track on a play that could have been made, but his outing was shaky as he allowed three hits, including two doubles, in an inning. In his last four outings Madson has gone 3 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on eight hits and five walks. That’s not good.

Overall in the game the pen went three innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. Durbin and Lidge both pitched for the second straight day. I would have liked to have seen Manuel use someone from the bottom of his pen with the Phils up 8-3 in the seventh instead of Madson.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Tim Redding went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Bruntlett (8) Ruiz. Jenkins in right against the righty. Dobbs on the bench with Bruntlett at third, which is a poor decision. Echoes of Nunez at third for Moyer’s starts ring in my ears. Ruiz catches.

Victorino, Utley and Howard singled back-to-back-to-back with one out in the first. It loaded the bases for Burrell and Burrell lined a single into left that scored Victorino and Utley and put the Phils up 2-0. Jenkins hit into a double-play behind Burrell to end the frame.

Ruiz singled with one out in the second and Moyer bunted him to second. Rollins grounded to second for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the third.

In the fourth, Jenkins singled with one out and Bruntlett hit into a double-play behind him.

The Phillies started the fifth down 3-2. Ruiz led off with a single and Moyer drew a walk. Rollins doubled to right and Ruiz scored, tying the game at 3-3, with Moyer going to third. Victorino was next and singled into center, scoring Rollins and Moyer to make it 5-3. He went to second when Lo Duca mishandled the throw in from the outfield for an error. Utley was next and he clubbed a 1-0 pitch out to center. 7-3. Howard and Burrell grounded out before Jenkins walked. Bruntlett struck out for the third out.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the sixth.

Victorino led off the seventh with a home run that put the Phils up 8-3. Utley, Howard and Burrell went in order behind him.

Jenkins singled to right to start the eighth, but Bruntlett hit into a double-play behind him and Ruiz flew to left for the third out.

Werth led off the ninth with a walk and Rollins hit into a double-play behind him, the fourth on the day for the Phillies. Victorino flew to center for the third out.

Rollins was 1-for-5 with a double.

Victorino 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBI.

Utley was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI.

Howard 1-for-4.

Burrell 1-for-4 with two RBI.

Jenkins 2-for-3 with a walk.

Bruntlett was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and grounded into two double-plays.

Ruiz 2-for-3. He has one extra-base hit since June 14.

Kyle Kendrick (8-5, 4.70) faces lefty John Lannan (6-10, 3.33) tonight. Lannan has allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his last ten starts, but the Nats have lost eight of those games. He’s actually been worse in his eight starts at home (2-5 with a 4.71 ERA) than in his 12 starts away from home (4-5 with a 2.57 ERA). Lannan made his major league debut on July 26, 2007 and broke Chase Utley’s right hand with a pitch. The Phillies have lost three of Kendrick’s last four starts. In those starts Kendrick has allowed 34 hits in 22 2/3 innings. Lefties are hitting .324 against him for the year. He has a 1.80 ratio against lefties and a 1.18 ratio against righties.