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St. Louis native Detwiler has chance of a lifetime

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St. Louis native Detwiler has chance of a lifetime

ST. LOUIS -- Ross Detwiler sat by his locker Friday afternoon, doing the math in his head. The Nationals' magic number at that point was 3. He knew there was a chance he would take the mound today with the Nationals in position to clinch the NL East title, and he knew he really wanted that opportunity, unlikely as he thought that might be.

"You always want to be the guy to do it," he said. "I have a feeling it's going to happen before I get the ball. But it would definitely be a very special moment if I was the person that got handed the ball with a chance to clinch."

Well, turns out Detwiler will get that chance. The magic number is down to 1 this morning, so when the left-hander takes the mound at Busch Stadium, he knows he can pitch the Nationals to their first-ever division title, no matter what anyone else does.

And he can do it in his hometown, in front of dozens of friends and family.

A native of nearby Wentzville, Mo., Detwiler is making his first-ever start in St. Louis against the Cardinals franchise he grew up rooting for from his living room sofa.

"Any time you walk out onto a field that you watched on TV growing up, it's definitely pretty special," he said.

Detwiler has never pitched at the current Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006, but he did play in a high school game at the former Busch, across the street, in 2003.

He and his family made occasional trips into town to watch games from the stands, but the commute from Wentzville -- located 40 miles west of downtown St. Louis -- was a bit too much to allow for regular trips, especially on school nights.

Plenty of folks from his hometown will make the drive in today, though. Not only to see Detwiler try to pitch the Nationals to a division crown, but also to see their beloved Cardinals try to move a step closer to a Wild Card berth.

So, who exactly will the Detwiler clan be cheering for inside the ballpark today?

"I don't know. It's going to be kind of neat figuring that out," he said. "See, the Cardinals have such a strong following. Maybe not out loud, but definitely inside they're all Cardinals fans."

Whether he wins or loses today, Detwiler has firmly established himself as a front-ling, big-league starter this season, five years after the Nationals made him the sixth overall pick in the country out of Missouri State.

Teammates, coaches, even Detwiler himself point to one major reason above all else for his emergence this season: Confidence. At 26, he finally trusts his own ability and takes control when he's handed the ball.

Which is why, on this potentially significant day for the Nationals, Detwiler can't wait to be handed the ball.

"That's what I strive for," he said. "I want to be that guy that gets it done, the guy when you look back you say: 'He won the clinching game.' And then, the chance for that to happen, for it to be in St. Louis in front of everybody I went to high school with and grew up with, it definitely would be pretty special."

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Tanner Roark and Jayson Werth lead Nationals past Phillies 4-0

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USA Today Sports

Tanner Roark and Jayson Werth lead Nationals past Phillies 4-0

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Tanner Roark threw seven impressive innings, Jayson Werth hit a solo homer and the Washington Nationals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-0 on Monday night.

Roark (14-7) allowed four singles and struck out five. Marc Rzepczynski tossed a perfect eighth and Mark Melancon finished off the four-hitter.

Phillies rookie Jake Thompson (1-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. It was the longest and best of his five career starts.

Werth lined a solo shot to left in the first against his former team. A member of Philadelphia's 2008 World Series championship team, Werth was greeted by boos, as usual.

Bryce Harper raced home from first on Anthony Rendon's single to left-center to make it 2-0 in the first. Clint Robinson and Trea Turner had RBI singles off Frank Herrmann in the ninth.

Thompson settled in nicely after a rough start. His last pitch was a nasty curve that froze Turner for strike three.

Roark didn't need much support. The righty stifled the Phillies again. He's 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA against them this season.

The NL East-leading Nationals snapped a two-game losing streak.

RELATED: NATS MAKE TWO ROSTER MOVES

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Nats look to get back on track as Roark starts at Phillies

Nats look to get back on track as Roark starts at Phillies

Nats (75-55) at Phillies (60-70) at Citizens Bank Park

Having lost six of their last eight, the Nats now hit the road to face the Phillies for three games. This could be a good opportunity to collect some wins against a lesser team, as the Nats swept each of their last two head-to-head series.

Also working in the Nats' favor is that Tanner Roark is on the mound. Roark is 13-7 with a 2.99 ERA and is very good at going deep into games, having pitched at least seven innings in 15 of his 25 starts.

Ryan Zimmerman gets the day off as manager Dusty Baker looks to get him some rest. Clint Robinson is instead playing first base.

First pitch: 7:05 p.m.
TV: MASN2
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Starting pitchers: Nats - Tanner Roark vs. Phillies - Jake Thompson

NATS

CF Trea Turner
LF Jayson Werth
2B Daniel Murphy
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
C Wilson Ramos
1B Clint Robinson
SS Danny Espinosa
RHP Tanner Roark

PHILLIES

TBA
RHP Jake Thompson

CLICK HERE FOR LIVE STATS AND SCORES

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Nationals option Lucas Giolito to AAA Syracuse, recall Michael A. Taylor

Nationals option Lucas Giolito to AAA Syracuse, recall Michael A. Taylor

The Nationals have optioned pitcher Lucas Giolito to AAA Syracuse and recalled outfielder Michael A. Taylor, the team announced Monday. 

Giolito will return to the minors after starting Sunday in Washington's 5-3 loss to Colorado. He pitched a career-high five innings, allowing four runs on six hits (two HRs) and four walks. 

As Nationals Insider Chase Hughes noted, the rookie pitcher's velocity hasn't lived up to expectations. 

His fastball is supposed to sit comfortably in the high-90s and occasionally touch triple digits ... On Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, Giolito sat consistently around 93 miles per hour. That's not bad at all, but it's a far cry from the prodigious speed he used to have.

Taylor, meanwhile, last played for the Nationals on July 24 against the Padres. He went 0-4 at the plate in the 10-6 loss. 

MORE NATIONALS: Nats to add veteran Mat Latos when rosters expand on Sept. 1