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Phillies vs. Nationals: Washington clinches top NL seed with 5-1 win

The Nationals will face either the Cardinals or the Braves in the NLDS beginning Sunday.

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Rollins feels his Phillies are better than Nats

The Washington Nationals received a compliment from Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins, right before he took a bit of a swipe at the NL East champions, according to

After the final game of the regular season, Rollins expressed his opinion of the Nationals and how things could have been different.

"They had a good year," Rollins said, after the Nationals beat the Phillies. "They’re a talented team. It’s all come together for them and that’s great for them."

Rollins continued:

"With us healthy, they’re a second-place team," Rollins said. "But we weren’t."

The aging shortstop feels the Phillies will be back in the playoffs in 2013, provided the main cogs can stay off the disabled list.

"I think that’s a fact," he said. "We were 14 games under .500 and we got our lineup back for the most part and we played 14 games over .500 after that. That’s a positive sign. We just got so far back that 14 over only got us to .500."

Washington starts the playoffs against the winner of the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals wild-card game.


Nationals clinch top seed in National League

The Washington Nationals ended their season with a 5-1 win against the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday afternoon to finish with a 98-64 record on the year, ensuring at least a tie for the best record in baseball. The win gives the Nats the top seed in the National League heading into the postseason, regardless of the Cincinnati Reds' result Wednesday night. Washington will begin the NLDS at either Atlanta or St. Louis on Sunday.

The Phillies struck first in the game, scoring in the top of the fourth inning, but the rest of the day belonged to Washington. The special afternoon kicked off as Teddy Roosevelt won the President’s Race for the first time ever in the middle of the fourth. The Nats built off Teddy's momentum in the bottom of the inning as Ryan Zimmerman homered and Tyler Moore drove in another run. Moore homered in the sixth and Michael Morse hit a two-run HR in the eighth inning to give Washington the 5-1 win.

Edwin Jackson pitched 6.2 innings and picked up the win to finish his season at 10-11. Cliff Lee picked up the loss for the Phillies and finished his season at 6-9. Philadelphia ends their season at 81-81.


Teddy wins, a city rejoices

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Redskins media corps join in the celebrating.


Harper, LaRoche sit out season finale

After resting six of his regulars in Tuesday's 4-2 win over the Phillies, Nationals manager Davey Johnson has put five of the six back in the lineup (catcher Kurt Suzuki being the exception) for Wednesday afternoon's regular season finale.

In exchange for bringing back Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse, Ian Desmond, and Danny Espinosa, Johnson has decided to give Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche the day off. The Nationals can clinch the No. 1 playoff seed in the National League with a win or a Cincinnati loss to St. Louis.

Philadelphia Phillies (81-80)

1. Juan Pierre, LF
2. Kevin Frandsen, 3B
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Carlos Ruiz, C
5. Domonic Brown, RF
6. Darin Ruf, 1B
7. Nate Schierholtz, CF
8. Michael Martinez, SS
9. Cliff Lee, P

Washington Nationals (97-64)

1. Jayson Werth, CF
2. Mark DeRosa, LF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Michael Morse, RF
5. Tyler Moore, 1B
6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Jesus Flores, C
9. Edwin Jackson, P

First pitch for today's game is at 1:05 p.m. The game will be televised on MASN and can be heard on 106.7 The Fan, WFED-AM 1500 and WHFS-AM 1580


Nats close season with NL's top record on the line

It's Game 162. The Nationals will wrap up their remarkable 2012 regular season on Wednesday afternoon with a matinee against the Phillies.

While the NL East title may be locked up, the Nationals are still playing for the best record in the National League, battling it out with the Reds. Cincinnati kept pace on Tuesday night with a win over the Cardinals, matching the Nationals' record. But Washington controls their own destiny, holding a tiebreaker over the Reds. A win will secure home field advantage.

The Nationals will turn to Edwin Jackson to try to lock down home field. Jackson will be making his 31st start of the season, posting a 9-11 record and 4.13 ERA to date. The veteran righty has been shaky in the month of September, and is coming off a start in which he gave up eight earned runs to the Cardinals. In three starts against the Phillies this season, he has a 4.34 ERA.

Philadelphia will counter with Cliff Lee, who has been perhaps the best pitcher in the game during the month of September. Lee has an ERA just a tick over 1.00 this month, and he'll likely be facing an atypical Nats lineup. Charlie Manuel is also likely to not start his best nine, but it's been rookie slugger Darin Ruf who has done all the damage through the first two games.

First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m. ET and MASN will have the broadcast.


Makeshift Nationals lineup evens series with Phils

Playing a makeshift lineup and spot-starting Tom Gorzelanny, the Washington Nationals evened up their series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night with a 4-2 win. The victory gives the Nats a momentary half-game lead over the Reds for the best record in the National League. Cincinnati was beating the Cardinals when the Nationals game concluded.

Gorzelanny got the call late, as the Nats opted to rest 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez in advance of the playoffs. The long reliever pitched a steady 3⅔ innings, striking out five and allowing just one earned run. A solo homer by Darin Ruf, his first of two on the night, was the only blemish for Gorzelanny.

It was Adam LaRoche who had the big night at the plate, scoring two of the Nats' four runs. LaRoche led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to deep left, and came in to score on a two-out Roger Bernadina single that ended B.J Rosenberg's shutout bid.

Two innings later, LaRoche led off with another extra-base hit, but this one cleared the fence for his 33rd homer and 100th RBI. The blast made him just the third National to drive in 100 runs since the franchise arrived in Washington in 2005 (Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman being the others).

In addition to LaRoche's big night, Steve Lombardozzi continued to come through for Davey Johnson in key situations. The utility man hit lead off and drove in the final two runs for Washington with a single in the sixth and a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

The Nationals' bullpen was also impressive over the final five-plus innings. Hard-throwing Christian Garcia was first out of the bullpen with two out in the fourth inning and recorded four straight outs. Tyler Clippard, however, did give up another solo homer to the slugger Ruf before Drew Storen worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save of the season.

The Nationals will now wrap up the series, and the regular season, Wednesday afternoon. Edwin Jackson is currently scheduled to make his 31st start.


Nats make six changes to lineup Tuesday night

With the National League East crown all sewn up, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson has placed six reserves in his starting lineup. Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, and Kurt Suzuki are all on the bench to start the penultimate game of the season, despite the fact that the Nationals remain tied with the Cincinnati Reds for the best record in baseball and can secure the first playoff seed in the National League with a win Tuesday night.

Here are the full lineups for both teams.

Philadelphia Phillies (81-79)

1. Kevin Frandsen, 3B
2. John Mayberry, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ty Wigginton, 1B
5. Darin Ruf, LF
6. Domonic Brown, RF
7. Erik Kratz, C
8. Michael Martinez, SS
9. B.J. Rosenberg, P

Washington Nationals (96-64)

1. Steve Lombardozzi, 2B
2. Bryce Harper, CF
3. Tyler Moore, LF
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Chad Tracy, 3B
6. Mark DeRosa, SS
7. Roger Bernadina, RF
8. Sandy Leon, C
9. Tom Gorzelanny, P

First pitch of tonight's game is at 7:05 p.m. The game will be televised on MASN and can be heard on 106.7 The Fan, WFED-AM 1500, and WHFS-AM 1580.


Nats' Gonzalez scratched, Gorzelanny gets start

Tom Gorzelanny will start Tuesday in place of Washington Nationals' ace Gio Gonzalez, who's being rested for the NLDS.


Strasburg: 'We’ll have to wait and see'

MLB Network crews tries Monday night to get Strasburg to admit the possibilities of him starting in the 2012 postseason.


Initial thoughts on an NL East clincher

It's about much more than the 96-win team who celebrated on the field Monday night.


Nationals lose, but celebrate NL East title

The Washington Nationals clinched the NL East crown on Monday night, but they did it with a little help from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nats dropped their series opener to the Phillies, 2-0, but the Bucs came through to defeat the Braves and hand the division to Washington.

The Nationals learned of the Atlanta loss as they came off the field in the middle of the ninth. The dugout instantly erupted into an impromptu celebration, with the players congratulating each other and manager Davey Johnson. The Nationals Park crowd joined in the celebration as well, with their first division title since the relocation in 2005 (and a franchise first since 1981, when the Expos won the NL East title in the second half of a strike-interrupted season).

There were still three at-bats left for the Nationals after the celebration, and Philadelphia's Phillippe Aumont finished the shutout in the bottom of the ninth. Starter Kyle Kendrick was dominant for the Phils, pitching an efficient and tidy seven shutout innings. Kendrick allowed just four hits and walked no one. He's been incredibly consistent for Charlie Manuel for most of the second half, and he finished that off in his final start on Monday.

A Darin Ruf triple off John Lannan in the top of the second produced the game's only runs. But that play was long forgotten by the time the champagne started flowing just before 10 p.m. ET in the Nationals clubhouse.

Nationals clinch NL East as Braves lose to Pirates

The Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East, with the Pittsburgh Pirates coming through for the Nats by defeating the Atlanta Braves, 2-1. The Nationals' magic number was at one entering Monday's games, and either a win by Washington or a loss by the Braves would do it. The Bucs obliged.

Pittsburgh, which was assured of yet another losing season on Sunday, edged out Atlanta on the strength of a start by Jeff Locke. The young lefty was making just his sixth start of the season, and it was his best performance on the mound for the Bucs. He danced around five walks, and gave up only two hits in six innings. A Jason Heyward single in the third would drive in the only Atlanta run of the evening.

The Pirates' dynamic rookie outfielder, Starling Marte, would do the damage on offense to clinch the win. After the Braves broke the scoreless tie in the third, Marte responded quickly with a leadoff triple against Paul Maholm. He would score on the very next pitch, as Chase D'Arnaud grounded out to the left side and the Bucs' rookie scooted home from third.

In his next at-bat, Marte would put the Pirates ahead for good. He took a 2-1 offering from Maholm to straightway center to give Pittsburgh the 2-1 lead. The Pittsburgh bullpen would clean up the final three innings, securing the win and an NL East crown for Washington.


Looking to clinch, Nats trail 2-0 in the fifth

With the magic number still at one, the Washington Nationals are looking to clinch the NL East on Monday night with a series-opening win over the Phillies. They currently trail Philadelphia, 2-0, in the middle of the fifth inning. Philly starter Kyle Kendrick, who has been one of Charlie Manuel's most consistent starters since August, has cruised through the first four innings.

Kendrick gave up just two hits the first time through the order, with Michael Morse and Ian Desmond hitting back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second. But Danny Espinosa ground out to first, and Kendrick walked Kurt Suzuki to get to the pitcher, John Lannan. With the bases loaded, the Nationals starter grounded out to the left side to end the threat.

In the top half of that inning, the Phillies put together a quick two-run rally to break through against Lannan. It started with a leadoff walk to Carlos Ruiz, who was moved to second on a Domonic Brown single back up the middle. Rookie Darin Ruf then came through, ripping a triple to deep left. Ruf tore the cover off the ball this year at Triple-A Reading, and he's been one of the reasons to watch the Phils as they play out the string these last two weeks. The two-run triple is the only damage so far.

The Nationals can also clinch with an Atlanta loss, and the Braves are currently tied with the Pirates, 1-1, in the fifth.


Suzuki makes 10th consecutive start behind plate

The Washington Nationals have a second chance to wrap up the National League East division title (and a first chance to do so at Nationals Park) Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. Davey Johnson has sent out his normal lineup for the 160th game of the season, including catcher Kurt Suzuki, who is making his 10th consecutive start behind the plate.

The full lineups are below.

Philadelphia Phillies (80-79)

1. Kevin Frandsen, 3B
2. John Mayberry, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Carlos Ruiz, C
5. Ty Wigginton, 1B
6. Domonic Brown, RF
7. Darin Ruf, LF
8. Michael Martinez, SS
9. Kyle Kendrick, P

Washington Nationals (96-63)

1. Jayson Werth, RF
2. Bryce Harper, CF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Adam LaRoche, 1B
5. Michael Morse, LF
6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Kurt Suzuki, C
9. John Lannan, P

Monday night's game will be seen on MASN and can be heard on 106.7 The Fan, WFED-AM 1500, and WHFS-AM 1580. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.


A Nationals celebration is one win away ...

With a win tonight in Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals can clinch their first NL East pennant. Only their NL East rivals from Philadelphia stand in the way.

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