Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 3: The Phillies’ bat and Blanton’s pitching would help the Phillies defeat the Nats, 8-4. The Marlins’ defeat of the Mets would help shrink the Phils’ magic number down to 1.

The Phillies’ offense early innings offensive, and Blanton’s excellent pitching, would lead the Phillies to easily defeat the Nationals, 8-4. A Mets’ lost to the Marlins would help drop the Phillies’ magic number to win the Eastern Division down to one. The Phillies would take a quick lead in the first, as, with runners on the corners and one man out, Ryan Howard would hit a three-run home run, his forty-eighth home run of the year, scoring Jayson Werth, who has earlier singled and has moved to third on Chase Utley’s single, and Utley, who has singled earlier, to give the Phillies a quick 3-0 lead. The Nationals would get a run back in the second, as, with a runner on third and two outs, Luke Montz would hit a RBI single, knocking in Elijah Dukes who has earlier walked, went to second on a pass ball, moved to third on Kory Casto’s ground out, 4-3, to make it a 3-1 Phillies’ lead. The Phillies would blow the game wide open in their half of the second, as, with the bases loaded via a double (Greg Dobbs), a walk (Jimmy Rollins) and an infield single (Werth) and two outs, Utley would clear the bases by hitting a three-run RBI double, scoring Dobbs, Rollins and Werth, giving the Phillies a 6-1 lead. Howard would then follow with a RBI double, knocking in Utley, making it 7-1 Phils. The Nationals would cut the Phillies’ lead down in the fifth, as, with two men on and one out, Emilio Bonifacio would hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Pete Orr, who would reach first on Howard’s fielding error and would move to third on Roger Bernadina’s double, to make it a 7-2 Phillies’ lead. One batter later, Bernadina would score on a Cristian Guzman’s single, cutting the Phillies’ lead down to 7-3. In the sixth, the Nationals would cut the lead down further to 7-4 Phillies as, with two outs, Casto would hit a solo home run, his second home run of the year, after the umpires have reviewed the play and dismissed Charlie Manuel’s argument that a fan has pulled the ball into the right field stands. The Phillies would get that run back in the seventh as, with runners on second and third and two men outs, Utley, who has earlier singled, stole second and would reached third on Shane Victorino’s force out, which would wipe out Pat Burrell, who has earlier walked, would crossed the plate on a pass ball, while Victorino, who has earlier stole second, would move on to third, making it 8-4 Phillies. Brad Lidge would then be given the ball in the ninth and would pitch a 1-2-3 inning.

Joe Blanton would get the win as he pitches six very strong innings, giving up four runs, only one of which was earned, on five hits. His record is now 9-12, 4-0 as a Phil, with an ERA of 4.69. Scott Eyre would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up no hits while striking out two. Ryan Madson would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on one hit. J.C. Romero would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs or hits. Brad Lidge would pitch a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out two. Collin Balester would take the lost, as he only went an inning and a third, giving up seven earned runs on seven hits. Jason Bergmann would pitch two and one third innings, giving up no runs on one hit. Charlie Manning would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up no hits. Garrett Mock would also pitch a scoreless inning, giving up no hits. Mike Hinckley would pitch two thirds of an inning, giving up an unearned run on one hit. Jesus Colome would pitch an inning and a third, giving up no runs on no hits.

The Phillies’ offense would bust the game open early in the first two innings, via a three-run home run by Ryan Howard and a three-run double by Chase Utley. With this big runs support, Joe Blanton would be able to mow down the Nationals, getting most of them out via a large number of ground ball outs. The score is closer than it actually should have been, as one National run would come in thanks in part to a Carlos Ruiz pass ball on a Blanton pitch, and their second and third runs would cross the plate because of Ryan Howard’s fielding error on a ball that was hit straight to him. Whatever Charlie Manuel has told his men during their afternoon meeting must’ve worked as they would score several very early runs.

The Phillies (90-70) will continue their final three games home stand of the regular season with the Nationals (59-100) with a game this afternoon, which will be nationally televised by Fox Sports. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 3:55 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be the 45 years old veteran Jamie Moyer (15-7, 3.78), who is coming off a win against the Marlins on September 21, where he went six innings, giving up only one earned run on six scattered hits, in the Phillies’ 5-2 win. In his last start against the Nats on August 21, he would receive a no-decision as he went six and one third innings, giving up just an earned run on five hits, in the Phillies’ 4-3 lost. He will be trying for both his team leading sixteenth victory and to clinch the Phillies into the playoffs, if the Marlins don’t defeat the Mets earlier in the day. The Nationals will send to the mound John Lannan (9-14, 3.86), who is coming off a lost to the Padres on September 20, when he went seven innings, giving up four runs, only one of which was earned, on four hits, in the Nationals’ 6-1 lost. In his last two starts against the Phillies, his record is 0-2, where he pitched a combined total of eleven and two-thirds innings, giving up eight earned runs on fourteen hits. He will be trying to get his tenth victory while trying to see if he can stop the Phillies’ clinching celebration for one more day.

The Phillies are now ahead of the Mets in the East by two games after their lost to the Marlins, leaving the Phillies’ magic number to win the division at one. In the Wild Card race, the Brewers are now leading the Mets by one game as they defeated the Cubs, with their magic number to clinch the Wild Card now at two. The Phillies could clnch the East Saturday afternoon, with the clinching party being seen on national television, if the Mets haven’t already lost to the Marlins by then. Whatever happens, the Phillies need to take care of their own buisness and defeat the Nationals. GO PHILLIES!!!!

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