Ian Desmond homered and drove in four runs in his major league debut, Livan Hernandez pitched effectively into the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals held off the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 on Thursday night.
Adam Dunn hit his 36th homer for the Nationals, who gave up five runs in the ninth before Ron Villone got Ryan Howard to ground into a game-ending double play with runners at the corners. Moments earlier, Matt Stairs snapped an 0-for-30 skid with a pinch-hit grand slam.
Philadelphia's lead in the NL East was cut to five games over Florida, which routed the New York Mets 13-4. The Phillies had won nine straight against Washington.
The last-place Nationals won for only the second time in 12 games overall.
Desmond, a 24-year-old shortstop who was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday, had a fourth-inning RBI double and a three-run homer to key a five-run fifth. He narrowly missed a home run in his first at-bat, flying out to deep center field.
Hernandez, signed by the Nationals on Aug. 25 after he was released by the New York Mets, broke a five-game losing streak.
His last win came July 26 with the Mets when he beat Houston.
He allowed two runs in the first on an RBI triple by Chase Utley and a sacrifice fly by Howard. In his 7 1-3 innings, Hernandez gave up five hits, struck out two and walked one.
The Nationals tied the score at 2 in the third with a two-run triple by Pete Orr. After Elijah Dukes bunted for a base hit with one out in the fourth against Joe Blanton (9-7), Desmond drilled a double to center to give Washington a 3-2 lead.
Dunn's homer, a two-run shot to left, made it 5-2. Desmond drove his three-run shot to center and sprinted around the bases so quickly that he nearly caught Dukes, who had been on first base.
Desmond had to be coaxed by his teammates into a halfhearted curtain call.
All eight runs were charged to Blanton, whose streak of 11 straight quality starts ended.
Stairs connected in the ninth off rookie Zach Segovia to make it 8-6, ending the longest hitless stretch of his career. It was Stairs' 19th pinch-hit homer and 12th career slam.
Mike MacDougal allowed a single to Jimmy Rollins and an RBI double by Shane Victorino. Villone yielded an infield single to Utley before earning his first save this season.
Brad Lidge, demoted from his role as closer -- at least temporarily -- pitched a scoreless eighth with two strikeouts for the Phillies.