A bullpen battle with an eye on the scoreboard (Nats win 4-2)

Both the Nationals and Phillies went into this game knowing they’d be relying on Johnny Wholestaff.

In other words, we were going to see a whole host of relievers take the mound tonight.

We’ve gotten just that so far. Tom Gorzelanny, coming out of the bullpen to spot-start for the Nats, went 3 2/3 innings, allowing one run and striking out five. B.J. Rosenberg, a reliever who was called on to start for the Phillies, went four innings, giving up one run over four frames.

We now find ourselves in the sixth inning in a 1-1 game, with five total pitchers already having been used.

Making his first start since last July, Gorzelanny threw fairly well, scattering four hits and two walks. He left to a nice ovation and gave way to right-hander Christian Garcia. The rookie went 1 1/3 perfect innings, and was followed to the mound by Zach Duke.

The Nats won’t be watching the out-of-town scoreboard nearly as much as they were last night, but there is a game which directly impacts their playoff positioning.

If the Nats win tonight and the Reds lose to the Cardinals, Washington will lock up the top seed in the National League and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

That would mean they’d face the wild card winner, likely either the Braves or Cardinals (assuming St. Louis eventually secures the final playoff spot in the NL).

Update: Not only did Adam LaRoche give the Nats a 2-1 lead with a solo homer leading off the bottom of the sixth, he also set a couple pretty nice career milestones.

With the home run, LaRoche sets a career high with 33 longballs in a season, topping the 32 he hit with the Braves in 2006. He also reaches 100 RBIs on the season, tying a career high in that category and becoming just the third Nationals player to hit triple-digit RBIs, joining Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn.

LaRoche got a curtain call from the crowd here at Nats Park and got a very warm reception in the dugout. It’s been quite a season for the Nationals’ first baseman.

Update II: It’s 3-1 Nats as we go to the eighth. The Reds, meanwhile, are knotted up with the Cardinals 1-1 in the fourth. It’s very possible we get to see the Nats clinch something else tonight.

Update III: The Phillies beat reporters here in D.C. have started calling Darin Ruf, “Babe Ruf.” If he played the Nats every game, he might end up posting Babe Ruth-like numbers.

Ruf has had one hell of a ballgame, smacking two home runs, including one here in the eighth inning off Tyler Clippard to cut it to a 3-2 Nats lead. The rookie outfielder now has three career home runs, all against the Nats.

Drew Storen is getting loose for the ninth as the Nats try and tack on another run or two to give him some breathing room.

Update IV: That’s the ballgame. The Nats beat the Phillies 4-2, picking up their 97th win of the season.

Storen notched his fourth save of the season in the victory. The Reds now lead the Cardinals 3-1, but regardless of what Cincinnati does, if the Nats win tomorrow, they guarantee themselves the No. 1 seed in the National League.

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