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Nationals 4, Phillies 2

The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- Adam LaRoche started the sixth inning with a tie-breaking homer, and the Washington Nationals went on to a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday night.

The Nationals (97-64) moved one step closer to locking up the top spot in the National League playoffs and home-field advantage all the way through. The magic number for that is one, pending the outcome of Tuesday's St. Louis-Cincinnati game. A Reds' loss would clinch it for Washington. Washington locked up the National League East title on Monday night.

The Nats close the regular season Wednesday afternoon against the Phillies.

Manager Davey Johnson used just two normal starters in his lineup for this game, saying beforehand that he wanted to give his regulars a rest and had confidence in the guys he put out there. Like most everything else this year, Johnson's moves worked out.

LaRoche was one of the two starters in the lineup, and he broke a 1-1 tie with his line-drive homer into the right-field bullpen off Josh Lindblom (3-5).

That was LaRoche's 33rd homer of the season and his 100th RBI. Later in the sixth, Steve Lombardozzi's RBI single gave the Nationals a 3-1 lead.

Washington wound up using six pitchers in the game, and Zach Duke (1-0) got the win with a scoreless sixth inning. Drew Storen came on in the ninth and closed it for his fourth save.

Tom Gorzelanny got the start for Washington after Gio Gonzalez was scratched, and Gorzelanny ran into trouble in the third when the Phillies put runners on first and third with one out. Chase Utley then grounded to first baseman LaRoche, who threw home to catcher Sandy Leon, starting a rundown that eventually got Kevin Frandsen, who had been on third.

Gorzelanny then struck out Ty Wigginton to end the inning. But Philadelphia (81-80) took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Darin Ruf led off the third with a homer to left.

The Nationals tied it in the bottom half of that inning. LaRoche doubled off the center-field fence to lead off, went to third on a Chad Tracy groundout and later scored on Roger Bernadina's single to left.

They took the lead for good with the two-run sixth.

Ruf later added his second solo homer of the night when he started the eighth with a solo homer off Tyler Clippard to make it 3-2.

Lombardozzi added a sacrifice fly for some insurance in the bottom of the inning to give the Nats a 4-2 lead.

NOTES: Washington's Bryce Harper was voted the National League Rookie of the Month for September. Harper led the majors with 26 runs scored in the month and also had a .651 slugging percentage to go along with seven homers and 35 RBIs. Those were tops among NL rookies in the month, and he also hit .330 in September - second for the rookies. He also posted 11 multi-hit games in the month, one that began with questions of whether Harper needed a break since the 19-year old had struggled in August... Johnson wanted to start Gonzalez in this game, but pulled him once Washington locked up the NL East title Monday night. Gonzalez will start Game 1 of the NLDS, and will rest up for that...The Phillies have had seven players make their major-league debuts in this season -- one of whom was B.J. Rosenberg, the starter in this game...Ruf also homered against the Nationals on Sept. 25, his first major-league homer and hit. In fact, Ruf became the 20th player in franchise history to hit a round-tripper for his first hit in the majors.
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