Nats eye top record, try to even set with Phillies
(Sports Network) - With a National League East title in the cards, the Washington Nationals can still capture the top seed in the playoffs.
The Nationals have dropped three of four games and will try to even their three-game set with the Philadelphia Phillies tonight in D.C. Washington dropped a 2-0 decision in Monday's series opener, but were crowned division champions after Atlanta lost in Pittsburgh.
"A lot of us have gone through the losing," Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. "To be in this position ... is very satisfying."
Bryce Harper had the lone extra-base hit and John Lannan suffered his first loss (4-1) of the season after he gave up both runs and six hits in five innings. Craig Stammen fanned six in two innings of relief.
Adam LaRoche is one RBI shy of reaching 100 in the season and becoming the third player in Washington history to achieve the feat. Zimmerman and Adam Dunn have both done it with the franchise.
The Nationals franchise won its first division title since the 1981 Montreal Expos. It also is the first time the Nationals have won a division title since moving to the nation's capital after the 2004 campaign.
Gio Gonzalez was scheduled to start tonight, but will rest for the playoffs.
Tom Gorzelanny will make his first start of the season Tuesday and is 4-2 with a 2.90 earned run average in 44 appearances. He tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief in a 12-2 bashing of St. Louis last Friday and is 3-1 with a 2.56 ERA in 12 career games (3 starts) against the Phillies.
Philadelphia is out of the playoff picture for the first time since 2006, but can finish with a winning record for a 10th consecutive season with a victory Tuesday night.
Kyle Kendrick and three relievers kept the Nationals off the board in the series opener, while the former scattered four hits over seven shutout innings. Justin De Fratus, Jeremy Horst and Phillippe Aumont combined to throw two innings of relief. Aumont picked up his second save in the ninth.
Darin Ruf drove in each of Philadelphia's runs and both Domonic Brown and Kevin Frandsen finished with a pair of hits. Watching the Nationals clinch the NL East didn't sit too well with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
"It made me mad," Manuel said. "I'm a bad loser, and I always will be."
The Phils, winners of three straight, had won the division in five straight years. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins did not play last night due to a injured right calf and could sit out the rest of the season. Rollins is batting .250 with a team-leading 23 home runs and 68 RBI.
The Phillies are 9-7 against the Nationals this season and have prevailed in five of the previous seven matchups between the division foes.
10/02 11:44:11 ET