|Phillies can clinch first in NL East with win over Nationals|
|Saturday, 29 September 2007 01:39|
Phillies Look To Clinch 1st
The Philadelphia Phillies are alone atop the NL East standings and in position to clinch their first division title in 14 years.
The Phillies have a chance to accomplish that feat as early as Saturday when they continue their home series with the Washington Nationals.
Philadelphia (88-72) beat the Nationals 6-0 on Friday for its third straight victory and moved into sole possession of first place after the New York Mets lost 7-4 to Florida later in the evening.
The Phillies will clinch at least a share of the division crown with a victory or outright win their first division title since 1993 with a win and a Mets' loss to Florida on Saturday.
"You don't have nothing until you have it," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Do we smell it? Of course we smell it, and we want it."
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Philadelphia -210 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 11 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 67% of bets for this game have been placed on Philadelphia -210 (View MLB Bet Percentages).
Philadelphia improved to 12-3 since Sept. 12 when it was seven games behind the Mets, who have lost five straight and 11 of their last 15 contests. The Phillies moved into first place for the first time this season with a 6-4 win over Atlanta on Thursday to tie the Mets, who lost to St. Louis on the same day.
The Phillies, who are alone in first place for the first time since April 6, 2005, reached the World Series the last time they won a division title.
Ryan Howard will try to homer for a third straight game Saturday after he hit his 45th in the series opener. Howard and Jimmy Rollins each drove in two runs for the Phillies, who got a 13-strikeout performance from starter Cole Hamels.
Howard has three home runs and seven RBIs in his last four games. Rollins, meanwhile, is batting .324 (12-for-37) during an eight-game hitting streak.
"He's done everything a guy can do," Manuel said of Rollins, whose 706th at-bat Friday night set a single-season major league record. "I don't know what else he can do except sell tickets and popcorn."
The Phillies will look to Adam Eaton (10-9, 6.33 ERA) as he tries for his second straight victory over the Nationals. Eaton allowed three runs and five hits in five innings of a 6-3 victory at Washington on Sept. 21 for his first win since July 20 at San Diego and his only decision in six starts against the Nationals in his career.
Washington rookie outfielder Jason Maxwell had two of the six hits Friday for the Nationals (72-88), who had their four-game winning streak snapped.
Matt Chico (6-9, 4.75) will try for his second consecutive win when he takes the mound for Washington. He allowed three runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 13-4 victory over the New York Mets on Monday for his first win since beating Cincinnati on July 31.
"Chico started very shaky," Nationals manager Manny Acta said of his starter's most recent outing. "After we gave him those runs, he got into the strike zone and made some good pitches.''
The left-hander allowed four runs in 4 2-3 innings in the Nationals' 7-5, 14-inning loss at Philadelphia on July 25 in his only start against the Phillies.
by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us
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