Phillies-Nationals Preview

Acquiring Roy Oswalt turned the Philadelphia Phillies’ rotation

into one of the best in baseball. That rotation is now assured of

getting a chance to thrive in the postseason.

One night after Philadelphia clinched its fourth straight NL

East title, Oswalt looks to continue his dominant pitching – both

overall and against the Washington Nationals – on Tuesday.

The Phillies (94-63) acquired Oswalt (13-13, 2.80 ERA) from

Houston in a four-player trade July 29. The move bolstered a

rotation that already boasted seven-time All-Star Roy Halladay and

Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series and NL championship series

MVP.

Oswalt, Halladay and Hamels are a combined 20-7 in 32 starts

since the trade. As a team, the Phillies are 24-8 in those

contests.

Halladay led them to the East title Monday, tossing a two-hitter

in an 8-0 division-clinching win at Washington (67-90) to open this

three-game set.

“It was fun, but it’s only going to get funner,” said Halladay,

who spent 12 years with Toronto, never reaching the postseason,

before signing with Philadelphia. “That’s the reason you want to

come to a team like this. They know how to do it. It’s the coolest

thing I’ve been a part of. It’s just the start, I think.”

Oswalt has become accustomed to following strong performances by

Halladay and Hamels with one of his own.

“I’m trying to push them as much as possible and they’re doing

that off me,” Oswalt said. “Anytime you feed off each other, it

helps down the stretch.”

Oswalt is 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his last nine starts. Two of

those victories have come against the Nationals, as he’s yielded

one run in 13 innings while striking out 15 Washington batters in

those starts.

The right-hander was stellar again Wednesday, throwing seven

innings and allowing only one hit in a 1-0 victory over

Atlanta.

“It’s fun for me after not being in contention,” Oswalt told the

Astros’ official website. “This is what baseball is.”

Washington has already clinched a third consecutive last-place

finish and sixth in seven years.

Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18) will take the mound for the Nationals,

but may wish he didn’t have to. He’s lost all four of his starts

against Philadelphia this year – all to Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt

– compiling a 12.51 ERA in those outings.

The right-hander got pounded at Philadelphia on Sept. 17, giving

up six runs, six hits and hitting a batter in one-third of an

inning of a 9-1 loss to Oswalt.

Marquis pitched much better Wednesday, allowing two runs in six

innings. He didn’t get a decision in a 4-3 victory over

Houston.

“In Philly, I didn’t get ahead of the hitters,” Marquis said.

“(Wednesday), I felt I pounded the strike zone a little more. I was

consistent early in the count. I controlled the counts and was able

to get some quick outs.”