Game in a nutshell: Hoping to move another step closer to their first division title, the Nationals dug themselves into an early hole and couldn't climb all the way out. Ross Detwiler, who hadn't allowed a run in his last 14 13 innings against the Phillies, was roughed up for five runs during a ragged, two-inning stretch. The Nationals knocked Cole Hamels out after five but couldn't get anything going against the Philadelphia bullpen.
And before they knew what hit them, they had dropped the ballgame. Even worse, the Braves rallied in dramatic fashion to beat the Marlins in the bottom of the ninth, clinching a playoff berth and reducing their deficit in the NL East to four games with eight to play.
The Nationals' magic number remains stuck at five. And they can no longer wrap up the division title in Philly. The earliest they can do that now: Friday night in St. Louis.
Hitting lowlight: In one regard, the Nationals lineup did a solid job against Hamels, making the left-hander work and driving his pitch count up to the point he had to be pulled after five innings. But given a chance to rally against a suspect Phillies bullpen, they fell flat.
Josh Lindblom retired the side in the sixth. Justin de Fratus and Antonio Bastardo combined to retire the side in the seventh. Phillipe Aumont retired the side in the eighth. And Jonathan Papelbon finished things off in the ninth to earn the save.
Pitching lowlight: What to make of Detwiler's start? He was dominant early, awful for a stretch in the middle and then dominant again to end his night. Unfortunately, that awful stretch in the second and third innings far overshadowed the good work he provided around it. The left-hander was hurt by a pair of long balls: homers by rookie Darin Ruf and veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz.
But Detwiler's biggest infractions weren't the balls that left the yard. They were the ones that never found the strike zone. He issued three walks in a span of four batters, including two straight to open the bottom of the third. Both, of course, wound up scoring, underscoring the cardinal sin nature of those free passes.
Key stat: Ryan Zimmerman (2006, 2009) and Adam Dunn (2009-10) are the only players in Nationals history to drive in 100 runs in a season. Both Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche are on pace to reach that figure this year.
Up next: The series continues at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday when John Lannan tries to overcome his Citizens Bank Park demons (he's 1-5 with a 7.06 ERA in his career here) against Phillies right-hander Kyle Kendrick.