Countdown to the Playoffs, 15 games left: The Phils have three at home with the Nats.

With a three-game lead in the NL East, and having the best record in the National League, the Phils come back home to Philadelphia for their final home stand of the season. For the nine-game home stand, the Phils get to face the last place Nationals, the second place Braves and the fourth place Mets, with the Mets series being the last time that they’ll meet their rival to the North this year.

First up will be the Nationals, who presently have the third-worst record in the National League (with the D-backs and the Pirates sporting the second worst and the worst record in the NL respectively). This year, the Phils have a 7-5 record against the Nationals, with six games left to play. The Phils will be trying to win both remaining series between the two clubs, trying to go at least 4-2, with a best of 6-0, the later of which will not be easy as the Nats have been known to play tough with the Phils, although with it never being reflected in the season records between the two teams.

The first game of the three-game series, to be played at Citizens Bank Park, will start at 7:05 pm tonight. The Phils (86-61, 1st) will send to the mound Roy Oswalt (6-1 (12-13) 1.98 (2.94)), who is coming off a win against the Mets on September 12, as he pitched a complete game shut out, giving up just four hits and a walk, while striking out six, in the Phils’ 3-0 win. In his last three starts, his record is 3-0, as he had pitched twenty-two and a third innings, giving up four runs on eleven hits and eight walks, while striking out nineteen. Against the Nationals, since being traded to the Phils by the Astros, his record is 1-1, as he had pitched thirteen innings, giving up five runs, four of which were earned, on twelve hits and three walks, while striking out twelve. He has pitched one game against the Nats as an Astros, going 0-1, as he pitched just two and one third innings, giving up four runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out three. Thus, in three previous starts against the Nationals, his overall record is 1-2, as he had pitched fifteen and a third innings, giving up nine runs, eight of which were earned, on sixteen hits and six walks, while striking out fifteen. He will be pitching on normal rest, as his position in the rotation was switched with Kyle Kendrick, so that he would be facing the Braves next Wednesday night, as part of the three aces against the Braves in the middle series of the home stand. Oswalt will be going for his seventh win as a Phil, his thirteenth win of the season, to even up his season record, and his fourth win in a row. The Nats (62-84, 5th) will counter with Jason Marquis (2-8, 6.60), who is coming off a lost against the Marlins on September 11, as he went six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out eight, in the Nats’  4-1 lost. In his last three starts, his record is 2-1, as he had pitched seventeen and two-thirds innings, giving up six runs on eighteen hits and four walks, while striking out eleven. In three previous starts against the Phils, his record is 0-3, as he has pitched thirteen and a third innings, giving up fourteen runs, thirteen of which were earned, on eighteen hits and nine walks, while striking out just four. He will be trying to not become the Phils punching bag, as he was back in April. The Phils will be trying to not look past the Nats before they face the Braves to lock in their control of the NL East.

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