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The Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies' makeshift lineup 4-2 with their own Goon Squad-ish collection of starters and pulled within one game in the season series with their NL East rivals.
• 3.04.0 IP/65 P? How Could He Know?: Washington Nationals' manager Davey Johnson decided to rest most of his regulars today after the Nats clinched the NL East crown last night. Tyler Moore, Chad Tracy and Mark DeRosa all started. Potential Cy Young candidate Gio Gonzalez was replaced on the mound by left-handed long man Tom Gorzelanny. The Nats' skipper said he expected to get three or four innings and "probably" 65 pitches out of the 30-year-old, 8-year veteran in first start of the season. Gorzelanny started strong, striking out the side around a two-out walk and single by Chase Utley and Ty Wiggington, respectively, to complete a 23-pitch opening frame in the second game of three with the visiting Philadelphia Phillies. Gorzo's opponent on the mound, Philly righty B.J. Rosenberg needed 10 pitches to retire the Nats in order in the bottom of the inning, striking Tyler Moore out to end his own scoreless first.
• +Range DeRosa: After Mark DeRosa showed off his plus range and arm on a grounder to short by Domonic Brown, throwing the speedy Philly out at first on a grounder to short, Tom Gorzelanny issued the second walk of the game to Phillies' catcher Erik Kratz, but a grounder to the mound off Michael Martinez's bat allowed the Nats' left-handed starter to start a genuinely pretty 1-6-3 inning-ending DP. 2.0 scoreless for Gorzo. 0-0 in the second. Adam LaRoche took the first walk of the game from the Phillies' starter and Chad Tracy sent a slow roller through the right side to put two on with no one out in the Nats' second. A one-out walk by Rosenberg to Roger Bernadina loaded the bases, but Sandy Leon struck out and Gorzelanny grounded to short to keep it scoreless after two.
• Frandsen!!! [shakes fist]: Kevin Frandsen doubled to left to start the third. A grounder to short that was sharp but playable tied Mark DeRosa up, E:6, and put runners on the corners with one down. Tom Gorzelanny got a grounder to first out of Chase Utley and help from his first baseman Adam LaRoche, who threw home to catch Frandsen in a rundown. Both Phillies' runners advanced as the Nats chased Frandsen down and tagged him and Gorzo get Ty Wiggington swinging to end the top of the frame with his 4th K in 3.0 scoreless. The 15-pitch frame had the Nats' starter at 51 pitches overall. Still 0-0. B.J. Rosenberg retired the Nats in order on seven pitches in the bottom of the inning, getting Lombardozzi, Harper and Moore in order. Scoreless in D.C. after 3.0.
• Rufneck: Darin Ruf got hold a 2-2 change from Gorzelanny in the first at bat of the fourth, sending a towering shot out to left that Tyler Moore tracked to the corner and watched sail out. 1-0 Phillies' on Ruf's 2nd of 2012, with his first off the Nats' Ross Detwiler last week. Two outs later, a single to right by Michael Martinez pushed Gorzelanny up to 65 pitches overall and ended his night just about where Davey Johnson predicted it would in this afternoon's pregame press conference. Christian Garcia replaced Gorzo on the mound and popped the opposing pitcher up to end the frame.
• No. 35: Adam LaRoche doubled off the wall in center for his 35th two-base hit of 2012 to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but two outs later he was standing at third after a Chad Tracy groundout and a weak roller to short by Mark DeRosa. Roger "The Shark" Bernadina came up with two down and lined a single to left to drive LaRoche in [CHOMP!] and tie the game at 1-1, [CHOMP!] but then got picked off first to end the inning. [Sigh?]
• Bad Move, Rook: Christian Garcia threw a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the fifth against the Phillies, leaving the Nats' rookie right-hander with a 2.19 ERA, 3.75 FIP, two walks (1.46 BB/9) and 15 Ks (10.95 K/9) in 12.1 IP so far this season. Impressive start to his major league career, yes, but the former Yankees' prospect may have hurt his chances to make the Nats' postseason roster in last night's celebration of the Nationals' NL East Division title.
Nats' skipper Davey Johnson talked before this tonight's game about getting doused with champagne by Adam LaRoche during the celebration last night in the Nationals' clubhouse. After Johnson dried off from the first Dom Perignon shower, the 69-year-old skipper said he got hit again. "A rookie got me," Johnson said, "named Christian Garcia. I said, 'That's a no-no!" When reporters joked that Garcia may have cost himself a spot on the postseason roster, Johnson laughed. "He don't realize what that may have cost him."
• SB No.18: Sandy Leon singled to start the Nationals' fifth, but he was forced out at second two outs later on a grounder to short by Steve Lombardozzi. Lombo went first-to-third™ on a two-out single to left by Bryce Harper, but after Harper stole his 18th base of 2012, Tyler Moore K'd swinging to end the fifth with the score still tied at 1-1.
• Curtain Call, Career-High: Zach Duke walked Ty Wiggington in the first at bat of the sixth, putting the leadoff runner on. Domonic Brown hit a one-out single by Steve Lombardozzi at second to put two on with one out. A pop to short by Eric Kratz got Duke the second out of the inning, but the Phillies' loaded the bases on a grounder back to the mound by Michael Martinez that glanced off Dukes' glove. Bases loaded, but pinch hitter Carlos Ruiz grounded into a force to end Philadelphia's sixth. Still 1-1 in D.C.
Phillies' right-hander Josh Linblom took over in the bottom of the inning and two pitches into his outing the reliever gave up a long fly to right by Adam LaRoche that just cleared the bullpen wall and a leaping Dom Brown. HR no. 33 of 2012 for the Nats' 1B, a career-high and he also also collected his 100th meaningless RBI on the blast. 2-1 Nats. Chad Tracy walked in the next at bat and Mark DeRosa split Linbloms' wickets with a single up the middle to put two on with no out out. One out later, Sandy Leon got hit to load the bases in front of Eury Perez, but the Nats' outfielder grounded into a force at home, leaving it up to Steve Lombardozzi... who singled to center to make it 3-1 Nats. AND THE #LOMBOLOBBYGOESCRAZY! 3-1 Nationals after six.
• FIREWORKS!!!: Ryan Mattheus gave up the second double of the game by Kevin Frandsen in the first at bat of the seventh, then retired the next three Phillies in order in a 20-pitch frame. Philly reliever Jeremy Horst retired the Nationals in order in a 14-pitch frame. Tyler Clippard came out for the eighth with a two-run lead and served up HR no. 2 of the night by the Phillies' Darin Ruf, who crushed an 0-2 fastball and sent one out to the visitor's bullpen in left to cut the Nats' lead in half. 3-2. Clippard gave up a one-out single by the Phils' Erik Kratz, but held the lead through seven and a half. Mark DeRosa doubled off the GEICO sign in center in the Nationals' eighth, and The Shark got hit with a pitch to put two on with no outs. Eury Perez grounded back to the mound and into a force at home for the first out of the inning, but a sac fly to center by Steve Lombardozzi gave the Nats a two-run lead, 4-2.
• STOREN WARNING!!!: With a two-run lead after eight, the Nationals turned it over to closer Drew Storen, who took the mound looking for his 4th save of 2012. Low hanging clouds and cold breeze rolled in off Half St. obscuring the view of anything outside Nationals Park and shrouding the field in a smoky haze that may have had some wondering if this was in fact heaven. Storen got a groundout to second from Kevin Frandsen for out no.1. John Mayberry, Jr. grounded back to the mound for out no.2. Daynce Mix came up for a pinch hit appearance and sent a chopper to short that ended it. Ballgame. 4-2 Nats win.
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Nationals now 97-64.