The Washington Times - April 13, 2011, 12:02AM

The Nationals have talked a lot recently about closing the so-called gap between them the division’s elite. For the past few years, the Philadelphia Phillies have represented that elite and while it’s only one game — and they made sure to remind everyone of that — the Nationals clubhouse was as excited as it should have been after the team pulled to .500 on the season, topping the Phillies 7-4.

Of course a lot of the postgame chatter surrounded Jayson Werth, who finished 2-for-3 against his old team with a double, a home run, two runs scored and a walk.


For Werth, who was booed resoundingly each time he was involved in a play prior to the home run when those boos changed to cheers, it was just business as usual.

“Once the game starts you kind of zone out all the external stuff,” Werth said. “You really do. It is what it is. Like I said the other day, I went to Philly and we’d play the Mets and there was a lot of Mets fans. I don’t think there’s too many Mets fans left.

“We play the Phillies, there are a lot of Phillies fans. We start winning, change things around here, that’ll go away.”

Left fielder Laynce Nix, for one, admitted to taking a little extra pleasure in seeing Werth do so well against his former teammates.

“It’s a blast for us,” Nix said. “We know what’s going on. I’m sure he’s got to treat it like another game, but it was fun to see him have some success against them and it was nice to win the game.”

“They’re Philly fans,” said Jerry Hairston Jr. “Philly fans are known to be hard on their players and ex-players. I don’t think it affected him too much. I can’t wait until we go back to Philly. I’d enjoy it if he had those nights against anybody. When he’s on, he’s on and he was definitely on tonight.”

Hairston had a nice game for himself as well — a much-needed performance after the veteran had been caught in two tough spots on the team’s most recent road trip with a baserunning error and an outfield error in two different games that, both times, cost the Nationals dearly. Hairston got the start at third base Tuesday night and was only 1-for-3 but it was an important hit. On top of it being his first of the season, it also drove in the Nationals’ third run of the night.

“I joke around a lot,” Hairston said. “When things aren’t going good, you’ve got to joke around even more. I was joking with the guys that I’d like to get a couple of hits before the All-Star break.

“But you don’t get too high and you don’t get too low. The tide turns really quick. Sometimes when you’re cold you know that you can be that hot.”

Hairston is one of the key veterans that helps to makeup the Nationals experienced bench and several of them had a hand in the victory Tuesday night.

Werth has been asked a lot early this season what it will take to not only win in Washington, D.C., but also to change the perception that winning here would be impossible. After a win over this former team, he reiterated those points.

“(Winning) is the only way we’re going to (fill the park with Nationals fans),” he said. “We’re not going to do it by doing commercials and appearances and charity work. That’s not going to get it done. The only way to change the culture here in Washington, D.C., is to win. That was a big win tonight, but we’ve got to continue to do it.”

“(This is) more of a veteran club,” he added. “You’ve got the young guys, but it’s not all young guys and the guys that are on the bench are veterans and they know how to play. These kids that are playing, they’ve got lots of talent but yet they’re inexperienced. Inexperienced players, you’ve got to kind of hold their hand in a sense and teach them how to play the game the right way. The only way to do that is to have veteran guys around them, teaching them, and that hasn’t been the case here in the past and it is now.”