Nationals close in on NL East title

Washington 7, Philadelphia 3

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PHILADELPHIA — Gio Gonzalez became the first 21-game winner in the majors, Michael Morse hit two homers and the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 on Thursday night to move closer to an NL East title.

Bryce Harper also connected for the Nationals, who reduced their magic number to three. They have a four-game lead over Atlanta with six to play.

Gonzalez (21-8) settled down after a shaky start and lasted six innings, allowing three runs and six hits. He’s the first NL lefty to win more than 20 games since Dontrelle Willis won 22 for the Florida Marlins in 2005.

Gonzalez and Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (20-6) are considered the leading candidates for the NL Cy Young Award.

The Phillies closed out their home schedule with a loss that left them on the brink of postseason elimination.

They trail St. Louis by six games for the second wild-card spot with six games remaining. They finished 40-41 at home, their first losing record at 9-year-old Citizens Bank Park.

The Nationals already are the first major league team in the nation’s capital to reach the postseason in 79 years. They’re looking for their first division crown since moving to Washington and the second in franchise history.

METRO WILL RUN LATE FOR TEAM

WASHINGTON — An online coupon company based in Washington has agreed to foot the bill for keeping the Metro subway system open late during the Washington Nationals’ playoff run.

Metro announced Thursday that LivingSocial will put down the $29,500 deposit to keep the trains running for an extra hour. Metro closes at midnight, but postseason games can run later.

LivingSocial will be reimbursed for part or all of its deposit based on how many people use Metro during the extended hours.

– Associated Press


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