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9/20/07 The Washington Nationals...Spoiling Seasons, Casting Doubt...

     Philadelphia's second baseman Chase Utley hits a two-out triple to center off Washington starter Jason Bergmann in the top of the first inning in RFK Stadium. Ryan How...far did he just hit that fastball...Bergmann leaves one up and over the middle of the plate and Ryan Howard demolishes it to right for an early 2-0 Phillies lead.

     The Nationals just took two of three from the NL East's first place Mets, after losing two of three to start the final ten game homestand against the third place Braves, and Washington now finishes out the home half of their season with four against the second place Phillies.

     Ronnie Belliard beats out the back end of the DP grounder he himself hits, and then scores when Ryan Zimmerman doubles to left center, just out of reach of a diving Shane Victorino. 2-1 Phillies. Philly starter Kyle Lohse walks today's Nationals center fielder Ryan Church with two outs in the inning, but Lohse gets a ground ball from Austin Kears to end the first inning of play.

    Jason Bergmann retires the Phillies in order in the second. Robert Fick leads off the Nationals half with a single and comes around one batter later when Brian Schneider strokes a fastball over Victorino's head and to the warning track in left for a run scoring double. Jason Bergmann bunts Schneider to third. Lohse walks Fellipe Lopez. Ronnie Belliard rips a line drive to center, Schneider scores, Lopez slides in safely, Belliard safe at secoond. 4-2 Nationals lead. Lohse retires Ryan Zimmerman, then hits Wily Mo Pena, bringing up Ryan Church who splits the gap in left for a two-out, two-run double. 6-2 Nationals after two.

     Jason Bergmann strikes out Chris Roberson for his fifth K to start the third. Bergmann gets a pop out from Jimmy Rollins before Shane Victorino singles to bring Chase Utley up with two out in the top of the frame. Utley flies out to right. Still 6-2 DC. Philly right-hander J.D. Durbin replaces Kyle Lohse for the bottom of the third and retires the first three batters he faces.

     Gregg Dobbs comes up with Ryan Howard at second and Aaron Rowand at first with one out in the top of the fourth. Ryan Zimmerman reaches over the rail and into the home dugout to rob Dobbs on a foul ball off third. Philly catcher Carlos Ruiz pops out to second. Bergmann's through four with the 6-2 lead. J.D. Durbin comes back with his second scoreless frame to end the inning.

     Bergmann retires the Phillies in order in the fifth. Philly righty Kane Davis gets Wily Mo Pena looking for the first out of the Nationals half. Ryan Church hits a one-hopper into the right field bullpen for a ground rule double, Church's second double of the evening. (That's 40 two-baggers on the season for Church). Davis gets Austin Kearns swinging at strike three in the dirt, Kearns takes off towards first, and Church steals third, Philly catcher Carlos Ruiz throws late to third, and both runners are safe. Robert Fick stares at strike three. Davis gives Brian Schneider the intentionals and then retires Bergmann to end the fifth. Still 6-2 Nationals.

     Jason Bergmann bends in an outside curve ball to get Chase Utley looking for the first out of the sixth. Ryan Howard chases high heat from Bergmann for a swinging strike three. Pat Burrell takes a two-out walk. Aaron Rowand gets up 3-0 before Bergmann battles back to a full count and pops Rowand out to short center. 6-2 middle of six. Kane Davis snaps of a nasty breaking ball of his own to get Zimmerman looking to end the sixth.

     Luis Ayala gives up a leadoff single to Gregg Dobbs to start the seventh. Ayala walks Carlos Ruiz. Manny Acta, Nationals Manager doesn't like what he sees. Arnie Munoz is on in relief. Jayson Werth is on to pinch hit. Jayson Werth CRUSHES a 3-1 fastball to left, and there's no bout a doubt it...6-5 Nationals lead after Werth reaches the first rows of the upper deck with a three-runn blast. Jimmy Rollins doubles down the line in left. Shane Victorino's sac bunt moves Rollins to third. Chase Utley grounds to second, Belliard throws home late, Rollins scores to tie it at 6-6. Utley safe at first. One out. Ryan Howard takes a pitch on the hands. Big John Albaladejo's the right-hander Manny Acta, Nationals Manager is calling for. Pat Burrell stares at a nasty curve for strike three. Aaron Rowand grounds out to end the top of the seventh. 6-6 tie.

     Ryan Church works a one-out walk in the Nationals seventh. Nook Logan will run for Church. Logan's giving Philly reliever Clay Condrey fits just by standing at first, and he steals safely on a 2-1 delivery that's outside for ball three to Austin Kearns, who eventually walks. Lefty JC Romero will come on to face the Professional Pinch Hitter Tony Batista who grounds into an inning ending double play to close out the seventh. Still 6-6...

     Albaladejo walks Carlos Ruiz with one out in the top of the eigth. Ruiz steals second as Jayson Werth strikes out swinging. Jimmy Rollins doubles to right to score Ruiz from second 7-6 Phillies take the lead. D'Angelo "Red Hot" Jimenez walks with one out in the Nationals half, but Tom "Flash" Gordon gets the last two outs of the eigth to hold the Philadelphia lead. 7-6 after eight.

     Saul Rivera walks Ryan Howard with one out in the ninth, but eventually strikes out the side to bring the Nationals up in thebottom of the frame. Three outs to get one run...Philly closer Brett Myers gets a fly ball out from Zimmerman, gives up a one-out walk to Wily Mo Pena, gets a fly out from Jesus Flores, and then gets Austin Kearns looking to end a long Thursday night in DC.

Nationals now 68-85.