While the Philadelphia Phillies failed to clinch their fourth straight NL East title at home, they may have the right matchup on the mound to help them do it as they start their final road trip of the regular season.
Philadelphia (93-63) fell 7-3 to the New York Mets on Sunday, its second straight loss following an 11-game win streak. The Phillies’ magic number to clinch the division shrunk to one when Washington (67-89) beat Atlanta 4-2, although they wrapped up at least the wild card later in the day when San Diego lost to Cincinnati.
“It would’ve been nice if our fans could’ve seen us (clinch),” manager Charlie Manuel said.
Halladay (20-10, 2.53 ERA) became the first Philadelphia pitcher in 29 years to win 20 games Tuesday in a 5-3 victory over Atlanta. He allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, improving to 4-0 in four September outings despite a 4.55 ERA for the month.
It marked the third time the right-hander earned 20 wins, but he refused to take part in a champagne celebration to mark the milestone. Halladay, who never reached the postseason as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, said he will celebrate when the Phillies clinch the division title.
“It’s definitely special but the best part about it is it’s been secondary for me,” Halladay said of his individual milestone. “Being able to get to the playoffs is the priority.”
Halladay is 6-0 with a 1.51 ERA in his last six starts against the Nationals franchise.
Since facing the Phillies on Aug. 1, though, Lannan is 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in nine outings. He yielded three runs over seven innings Tuesday but did not get a decision in an 8-4 win over Houston.
Manuel will likely start Jimmy Rollins(notes) for the first time since Sept. 8. The shortstop, who had been out with a strained right hamstring, returned to ground out as a pinch-hitter in Sunday’s loss.
“I told him we can wait another day,” Manuel told the Phillies’ official website.
Philadelphia is 10-5 against Washington this year, with numerous hitters faring well. That group includes Jayson Werth(notes) (.400), Placido Polanco(notes) (.359), Utley (.341 with four homers) and Ryan Howard(notes) (.320 with 14 RBIs).
The Phillies have won 17 of 20 road games since Aug. 1 - the best mark in baseball since that date.