Philadelphia (82-70) at Washington (68-84)

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  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Thu Sep 20, 2007
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The Philadelphia Phillies are in no position to take the Washington Nationals lightly. That’s a lesson they should remember from last season.

The Phillies look to keep the heat on in both the NL East and the wild card race Thursday night when they begin a four-game series against the Nationals at RFK Stadium.

Seeking their season-high seventh consecutive victory, the Phillies were denied when Yadier Molina singled home the winning run with two outs in the 10th inning Wednesday, giving St. Louis a 2-1 victory.

Philadelphia, which had scored 30 runs in its previous three games, left two men on in each of the last three innings.

“We had all kind of chances,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “We just couldn’t get the big hit. A couple of times all we needed was a fly ball. We just couldn’t do it.”

The loss dropped the Phillies (82-70) 2 1/2 games behind the East-leading New York Mets, and 2 1/2 in back of wild card-leading San Diego. After these four games, Philadelphia closes the regular season with three home games each against Atlanta and Washington.

“I think we’ve got an 8-2 run in us, I sure do,” Manuel said. “We’ve got to keep going. Eighty-nine or 90 wins will get us something.”

This is the second straight season the Phillies will face the Nationals (68-84) late in the year with a potential playoff spot on the line. Philadelphia lost two of three at Washington from Sept. 26-28, putting it two games behind the wild card-leading Los Angeles Dodgers with three games left.

“We know they can step up and get us,” Manuel said of the Nationals.

Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an eighth-inning triple. He is batting .305 (18-for-59) with two homers and nine RBIs during the streak.

The Nationals (68-84) did the Phillies a favor by taking two of three from the Mets, but were unable to complete the sweep with an 8-4 loss Wednesday.

This will be the final series for Washington at RFK Stadium, where it has won eight of 11. The Nationals are scheduled to move into a new ballpark next season.

While playing spoiler is one source of motivation for the Nationals, they are also trying to avoid finishing last in the East for the fourth consecutive season.

“We are playing for something,” manager Manny Acta said. “This team has finished last the last three years. I don’t want to finish last this year.”

Kyle Lohse (8-12, 4.49 ERA) looks to win his fourth straight decision as he takes the mound for Philadelphia. The right-hander is 2-0 with a 4.25 ERA in nine starts with the Phillies after winning his final appearance with Cincinnati. Lohse gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings on Saturday at Shea Stadium, leaving without a decision before the Phillies rallied for a 5-3 victory.

He has yielded three runs or fewer in each of his past five starts, and Philadelphia is 7-2 with him on the mound.

Lohse is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in two starts this season against the Nationals.

With wins in a career-high three straight starts, Jason Bergmann (5-5, 4.38) gets the call for Washington. The right-hander beat Atlanta for the second straight start on Saturday, allowing four runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 7-4 victory. He has won four consecutive decisions, last losing June 30 against Pittsburgh.

Bergmann has made three starts this season versus the Phillies and has yet to record a decision while compiling a 3.68 ERA. He last faced them July 24 at Citizens Bank Park and gave up two runs and four hits in a season-low 2 1-3 innings before leaving with tightness in his hamstring.

Bergmann has had no trouble with Ryan Howard and Utley, who are a combined 1-for-14 against him.

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Starting Pitchers

K. Lohse Mil vs. J. Bergmann Oak
9-12 Record 6-6
4.62 ERA 4.45
122 K 86
57 BB 42
1.37 WHIP 1.22

Scoreboard

Thursday, Sep 20