And with Cole Hamels(notes), Roy Halladay(notes) and Roy Oswalt(notes) set to welcome them, no one would have flinched over the Phillies losing an opportunity to reduce their magic number in the NL East by one. Philadelphia, after all, still has six games remaining against the Braves and it'd take a decent-sized collapse to go from best record in the National League to losing out on a wild card spot.
But if we've learned anything from the steamroller also known as The Fightins' over the past month, it's that they're not letting many opportunities pass them by.
Following that form, Jayson Werth(notes) lifted a two-run homer high to center field on Sunday, capping a four-run, ninth-inning comeback against Drew Storen(notes) that earned Philly a 7-6 victory as well a weekend sweep over the Washington Nationals. The narrow escape allowed the Phillies to maintain their three-game lead over the Braves, who beat the Mets earlier in the day.
It also ran Philadelphia's current winning streak to seven games and lowered its magic number to 10. Overall, the Phillies have won 11 of their last 12 and are 15-3 in September as they've quickly turned a three-game division deficit on the first of the month to their current three-game lead today.
Yes, those whispers on the Phillies being the team to beat this October are getting louder and louder and it sounds like the players themselves won't argue if you make that claim.
Said Werth (via @Philled_In):
"We're right where we want to be, clicking on all cylinders & we're going to be a force to reckon with."
A force to reckon with, indeed. Though the recently shell-shocked Braves still have six opportunities to erase those three games, you can't overestimate how big it was for Philly to pull out this win against the lowly Nats. One extra game in the standings isn't much from April through August, but it's a much bigger mountain with 12 games remaining in September.
With Werth's walkoff, the Phillies moved one notch closer to their fourth straight NL East title and, on the off chance Atlanta solves all of Philly's top three pitchers, they'll still have a share of the division lead. Braves and baseball, beware. These Phillies keep coming.