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MLB Philadelphia PhilliesWashington Nationals

Washington Nationals: Struggles with Philadelphia Phillies Continue

Howard Smith-USPRESSWIRE

The Washington Nationals lost to the Philadelphia Phillies again. For all of the good things that Washington has done throughout the course of 2012, beating Philadelphia is not one of them. The Nationals 6-3 loss Tuesday night is their fourth straight to the Phillies and ninth this season.

Going into the 2012 season, Philadelphia was thought to be the team to beat in the NL East. Injuries and Washington’s fine play put them behind early and they never caught up. The Phillies still have an outside chance of earning a wildcard, but it is highly unlikely.

This has not stopped them from beating the Nationals. Washington has only beaten Philadelphia five times in 13 games. After Washington got off to a 4-1 start the Phillies have won seven out of the last eight in the series. Tuesday’s loss dropped the Nationals record against Philadelphia to 5-8. The teams will meet 18 times this season so have five more games to play.

Tuesday night it was solid pitching and three Philadelphia home runs that did in the Nationals. Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies, pitched five innings and watched his bullpen do the rest.

Outfielder Darin Ruf hit his first major league home run in the second inning. Catcher Carlos Ruiz and outfielder Domonic Brown added round trippers of their own. Washington left hander Ross Detwiler gave up five runs in five innings of work. After a slow start he retired nine straight batters, but the damage was done as the Nationals trailed 5-1.

Washington has a 14-4 record against the New York Mets, but is 24-25 against the rest of the NL East. The Nationals have earned a spot in the NL playoffs, but still not clinched the division. They are currently four games ahead of the Atlanta Braves with eight to play. Washington’s magic number for clinching is five.

One would think that the Nationals have the inside track to the title. They will have to play the Phillies five more times on the way though. After two games Wednesday and Thursday in Philadelphia, the Nationals end their season with three at home against them next week. If the Braves can stay close going into the final three days there is a chance Atlanta could win the division.

Washington will need to beat Philadelphia in order to win the East. They can not count on Atlanta losing, but must win themselves. This means that the Nationals quest for the division title will not be easy.

Philadelphia may be out of the race after a disappointing season for them. But if they continue to beat Washington, the Phillies could make the Nationals post season much more difficult than it first appeared to be.