WASHINGTON (AP)—Down a game with one to play, the Philadelphia Phillies will have to win and hope for help.
“We’ve got to keep going,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’ve got one more game in the regular season, and we’ve got to win tomorrow. That’s all.”
Philadelphia (87-74) trails Houston (88-73) by one game; the Astros stayed ahead by beating the Cubs 3-1 Saturday. A Houston victory Sunday would give it the league’s final playoff spot, no matter what Philadelphia does.
“The scoreboard is very hard not to look at. It’s sitting right up there in front of you. I find myself just kind of staring at it,” Manuel said. “They can cut it off if they want to, but then I’d probably ask somebody to go up there and see what the scores of the games are.”
If the Phillies and Astros finish tied, they would meet in a one-game playoff Monday at Philadelphia. The Phillies last reached the postseason in 1993.
“They’re a talented enough team to play in the playoffs. They look like they’re at the top of their game right now,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.
Brett Myers (13-8) had a career-high 12 strikeouts while limiting Washington to three runs on six hits over 6 2-3 innings. He departed with runners on the corners after David Bell’s fielding error, but reliever Ryan Madson got Jamey Carroll to ground out.
Myers got ahead of hitters, throwing 86 of his 127 pitches for strikes.
“Everybody coming back to the dugout was just like, ‘Wow,”’ said Washington outfielder Ryan Church, whose solo shot leading off the second was his first homer since June 18.
The Phillies, meanwhile, kept tacking on runs, much to the delight of the sizable contingent of fans wearing white Ps instead of Ws on their red hats. By the sound of things, thousands made the two-hour drive south from Philadelphia: Big hits for the visiting team were greeted with various chants, from “Let’s go, Phillies!” to “E-A-G-L-E-S! Eagles!”
As well as Myers pitched, and as poor as Washington’s offense has been, the outcome was nearly settled in the top of the first. Philadelphia got to John Patterson (9-7) for four runs, the biggest hit being Howard’s bases-loaded double off the wall.
“They were on me from the beginning,” Patterson said.
Jimmy Rollins slapped a double just inside the bag at first on the game’s first pitch to extend his hitting streak to 35 games, tied for the ninth-longest in major league history. Kenny Lofton singled Rollins home, and after Patterson walked two to load the bases, Howard came through.
Patterson retired 12 of the next 13 batters, until Lofton singled in the fifth ahead of Utley’s two-run homer to straightaway center, his 27th home run. Utley added No. 28 on a solo shot off Joey Eischen.
Howard hit his 22nd homer—tops among rookies—not far from the spot in the right-field upper deck that Barry Bonds reached last month. Howard dropped his bat and stood by the plate, admiring his drive.
“We definitely knew Ryan Howard was a slugger,” Rollins said. “He’s definitely proven that now that he’s getting a chance to play.”
Patterson allowed seven runs and seven hits over 5 2-3 innings. He was among the league leaders with a 2.38 ERA on Aug. 19, but after going 2-3 with a 5.29 ERA over his final eight starts, he finishes at 3.13.
“Just didn’t finish strong,” Patterson said.
The same could be said of the Nationals. They reached the season’s midpoint at 50-31 but enter Sunday 81-80 and needing a victory to finish with a winning record a year after going 67-95 as the Expos.
“We want to win tomorrow,” Robinson said. “We’ll go out and approach it that way, and hopefully we can get one.”
Nationals LHP John Halama’s left palm was bruised by a shot off Lofton’s bat in the sixth inning. … Washington has lost 12 of its last 14 home games, including five straight. … Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman made a terrific stop on a hard shot by Bell and threw him out in the seventh.