With National League East laurels in their sights, the Washington Nationals may have a chance to secure the title at the expense of the five-time reigning division champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals extended their lead over idle Atlanta to five games while reducing its magic number to five by salvaging a split of their four-game series with Milwaukee. The visiting Nationals will look to handle their end while opening a three-game set versus the Phillies while keeping an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard as the Braves host Miami.
Ryan Zimmerman belted a three-run homer as Washington scored six runs with two outs in the fourth inning en route to a 12-2 rout of Milwaukee on Monday. Philadelphia concluded a difficult weekend by dropping two of three to Atlanta to all but end its bid in the race for the second wild card. The Phillies sit 5 1/2 games in back of St. Louis.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, MASN (Washington), CSN (Philadelphia)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Nationals LH Ross Detwiler (10-6, 3.10 ERA) vs. Phillies LH Cole Hamels (15-6, 3.05)
Detwiler claimed his third straight victory after allowing one run on three hits in six innings in a 4-1 triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday. The 26-year-old dominated the Phillies in his lone meeting of the season, scattering three hits over seven scoreless innings on Aug. 2. Detwiler is 2-3 in his career versus Philadelphia.
Hamels will vie for his fifth straight victory when he takes the mound on Tuesday. The 2008 World Series MVP recorded his second 10-strikeout performance in six outings when he handcuffed the New York Mets over six innings in a no-decision on Wednesday. Hamels has traditionally dominated the Nationals, but fell to 12-5 in his career despite striking out nine in seven innings in a 3-0 loss on Aug. 2.
1. Philadelphia has set its starting pitchers for the first two games of the series, although Charlie Manuel has yet to declare Thursday's hurler. Ace Roy Halladay's turn is next in the rotation, but the two-time Cy Young Award winner admitted that he saw a doctor in regard to some spasms in his throwing shoulder.
2. In an interesting turn of events, the Nationals have a chance to clinch the NL East title against the Phillies. Philadelphia has claimed the division title on three separate occasions against Washington.
3. Phillies 2B Chase Utley has collected at least one RBI in six of his last nine games. Utley is 3-for-9 with a double in his career versus Detwiler.