Detwiler continues to build on his starts with playoffs ahead

Left-hander Ross Detwiler became the fourth Nationals pitcher to win at least 10 games this season, twirling six innings and allowing just one run in a 4-1 playoff-clinching win at Nationals Park.

Detwiler did not allow a hit through three innings, allowed a solo homer to Mark Ellis in the fourth, but then only two other singles to improve to 10-6.

At one point, he threw his fastball 13 out of 15 pitches, and 43 times on the night. He walked just one hitter to lead off the sixth, which could have sparked trouble. But then he managed to get Ellis to fly out and Shane Victorino to line out to Ryan Zimmerman to settle down.

A single by Matt Kemp with two outs got pinch hitter Elian Herrera to second. Then Detwiler got Adrian Gonzalez to ground out to Adam LaRoche and the Dodgers best threat was extinguished.

And more importantly, Detwiler is pitching better with each start late in the season, when the Nationals will need him most. It really feels like he is the No. 3 starter in the rotation because of his consistency, now 8-2 at home and 6-3 in the second half. He is 3-0 in his last 29 days.

Manager Davey Johnson said Detwiler has made big steps this season and is maturing on the moound at just the right time.

“Det was masterful,” Johnson said. “He has just grown up as a pitcher. He got to rushing a little bit and was a little wild in that sixth inning, but I thought he handled himself well.”

Detwiler felt good early as well, but the ultimate prize was pitching well enough to win, and he felt that is what he did.

“I started really strong, got a little shaky in the sixth,” Detwiler said. “Any time you get a win against a playoff-contending team it’s a step in the right direction.”

Detwiler was the sixth overall selection in 2007 and has pitched with the Nationals in every season but 2008. He had seen the struggles early and that makes the night in which the franchise clinched its first playoff berth even more special for the fans.

“It was great seeing them all on their feet,” Detwiler said. “It really kind of gives you the chills a little bit to see how into it all of them were. For all the people coming out the past few years and we weren’t winning the past few years. They came back this year and it really feels good to win some games.”

And notching a career-high 10th win, joining Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann so far this season to reach double figures is quite an accomplishment.

“In past years, we have struggled to get one (pitcher to 10 wins),” Detwiler said. “That says a lot about John Lannan and what he did on teams that were not as good. Now we have the defense and offense to push forward to win the East.”

Edwin Jackson has his chance to join the group at 10 Friday here against the Brewers. But the number they are even more interested in dwindled is eight.

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