Phillies-Nationals Preview

The Philadelphia Phillies have already secured home-field

advantage throughout the NL playoffs. Remaining sharp in

preparation of making a run at a third straight pennant is the goal

now.

The Phillies attempt to rebound from their third loss in four

tries when they face the Washington Nationals in the finale of this

three-game set Wednesday night.

Philadelphia (94-64) opened this series with an 8-0 win Monday,

clinching a franchise-record fourth consecutive NL East title and

the league’s best record. Adam Dunn’s walkoff homer sent the

Phillies to a 2-1 loss Tuesday.

With four games left in the regular season, manager Charlie

Manuel doesn’t appear worried about wins and losses.

“We’ve got to keep getting our players some playing time,” he

said. “We’ve got to try and keep them sharp.”

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins went 1 for 3 Tuesday in his first start

since a right hamstring injury limited him to one pinch-hit

appearance in the previous 16 games.

”I won’t be 100 percent until next February – probably,”

Rollins said. ”I just won’t steal bases unless it’s 100 percent a

necessity. I want to get as much rest as I can, do as much as I can

with it before I have to push it.”

The 2007 NL MVP is hitting .245 with seven homers and 37 RBIs.

The Phillies are a much better team with Rollins in the lineup,

going 30-6 when he scores a run.

Joe Blanton (8-6, 4.94 ERA) takes the mound for Philadelphia

looking for his first win in the nation’s capital. The right-hander

is 0-3 with a 7.67 ERA in six games at Washington.

He’s entering this start with momentum, however, going 5-0 with

a 3.54 ERA in 12 starts since losing at St. Louis on July 21. That

stretch includes a road start against the Nationals on July 31,

when he didn’t get a decision after allowing four runs in six

innings of a 7-5 defeat.

Blanton was solid Friday, yielding two runs in seven innings of

a 3-2 win over the Mets.

Despite his unbeaten stretch, Blanton is expected to be used out

of the bullpen in the NL division series, which begins next

Wednesday. The Phillies opted to play that series over an eight-day

schedule. The extra off day will allow them to go with a three-man

rotation that will likely consist of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and

Cole Hamels.

“I’m here to win another ring,” Blanton said. “That’s more

important to me than anything.”

The Nationals are assured of finishing last in the East for a

fifth time in six years, and Wednesday could be Dunn’s final game

in Washington.

Dunn, a free agent this offseason, leads the team with 38 homers

and 103 RBIs.

“I’m not going to go into (Wednesday) going, ‘This is my last

home game ever,’ cry, go hand out Adam Dunn baseball cards. I’m not

going to do that,” Dunn said. “I don’t know what y’all want me to

say. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If I did, I would tell

y’all. I do not.”

Ross Detwiler (1-2, 2.52) gets one last chance this year to

prove he’s worthy of a spot in the Nationals’ 2011 rotation.

The left-hander turned in perhaps his best performance of the

season in Thursday’s 7-2 win over Houston. He yielded two runs in a

season-high six innings to get his first victory since Sept. 28,

2009.

Detwiler has been on the disabled list twice this season with

hip injuries after undergoing offseason surgery.

He’s 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA in four games – three starts – against

the Phillies.