Nationals' division lead shrinks after loss to Phillies

Philadelphia 6, Washington 3

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Philadelphia's Chase Utley holds onto the ball instead of throwing to first base after forcing out Washington's Bryce Harper at second base in Tuesday night's game.    MATT SLOCUM/ASSOCIATED PRESS
MATT SLOCUM/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Philadelphia's Chase Utley holds onto the ball instead of throwing to first base after forcing out Washington's Bryce Harper at second base in Tuesday night's game.

PHILADELPHIA — Ross Detwiler and his teammates watched the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate enough division titles, hoping one day to return the favor.

Not this year.

Darin Ruf homered for his first major league hit, Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown also went deep and the Phillies beat the playoff-bound Washington Nationals 6-3 on Tuesday night.

The Nationals’ magic number for winning the first division title in franchise history remained at five because Atlanta beat Miami 4-3. Their lead over the Braves dropped to four games with eight left.

The loss assured that Washington won’t pop bubbly in Philadelphia this week. The earliest the Nationals can secure the NL East is Friday. Philadelphia clinched three times against Washington in the past five years.

“We’d like to have celebrated on their field like they did with us,” Detwiler said. “I didn’t let it happen.”

Detwiler (10-7) gave up five runs and five hits in five innings to lose for the first time since Aug. 22.

“When I don’t have a fastball, that’s what happens,” Detwiler said. “It was embarrassing.”

Cole Hamels (16-6) overcame five shaky innings to set a career high in wins and help the five-time defending NL East champion Phillies keep their faint postseason hopes alive. Hamels allowed three runs and seven hits, tying his shortest outing of the year.

Philadelphia is 5½ games behind St. Louis for the NL’s second wild-card spot. Milwaukee and the Los Angeles Dodgers also are ahead of the Phillies in the standings with eight games remaining.

Ruf earned the nickname “Babe” by leading all minor leaguers with 38 homers this season, breaking Ryan Howard’s season record at Double-A Reading.

He didn’t take long to show his power stroke.

Ruf connected off Detwiler in the second inning, turning on an inside pitch and hitting a towering drive out to left-center. The rookie got the silent treatment in the dugout. Players held back smiles and ignored Ruf until the inning ended before congratulating him with high-fives. Fans in left field gave him a standing ovation when he jogged out to his position.

Control problems hurt Detwiler in the third. He walked John Mayberry Jr. and Chase Utley to start the inning. Howard followed with an RBI single on an 0-2 pitch. Ruiz then lined a three-run shot to left to make it 5-1.

“He has such a good fastball that sometimes that’s all he wants to throw,” Nats manager Davey Johnson said.

Hamels, the 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP, won 15 games in 2007. The three-time All-Star hadn’t won more than 14 since until now.

This wasn’t one of his better outings.

Five Philadelphia relievers tossed four innings of one-hit ball. Jonathan Papelbon finished for his 37th save in 41 tries.

Hamels issued a two-out walk to Danny Espinosa in the second. Espinosa stole second and scored on Kurt Suzuki’s single to center for a 1-0 lead.

Bryce Harper hit an RBI single with two outs in the fifth to cut it to 5-2. Harper alertly advanced to second on the throw to the plate and scored Ryan Zimmerman’s single that got the Nationals within two runs.

Brown gave the Phillies a 6-3 lead when he blasted Craig Stammen’s first pitch way out to right leading off the bottom of the sixth.


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