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Nats hope to lock up NL East vs. rival Phillies

(Sports Network) - The champagne is still on ice and the Washington Nationals' magic number to clinch the National League East remains at one.

The Nationals hope they can pop some corks tonight in the opener of a three- game series against the five-time defending division champion Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals can win the franchise's first division title since 1981 with a victory tonight or a loss by the Atlanta Braves, who are three games off the pace with three to go.

Washington lost two of three in St. Louis over the weekend and dropped a 10-4 decision in Sunday's series finale. Ross Detwiler didn't have his best stuff on the mound and put the Nats in a huge hole by allowing seven runs -- three earned -- in only 2 1/3 innings.

"Obviously it was a rough outing for him out there tonight," Washington manager Davey Johnson said about Detwiler. "That's why I got him out of there so early. He'll bounce back, he always does."

Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa both homered in the loss.

The Nationals and Cincinnati Reds share the best record in baseball at 96-63, while Washington owns a 48-30 mark in D.C. this season.

Hoping to pitch Washington to an NL East title tonight will be John Lannan. The left-hander is 4-0 with a 4.23 earned run average in five starts this season and spent most of the summer with Triple-A Syracuse. Lannan allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings of an 8-4 win at Philadelphia last Wednesday.

Lannan, however, has struggled in his career against the Phillies, going 3-12 with a 5.64 ERA in 18 starts (89 1/3 innings).

Philadelphia won the last two portions of a three-game set in Miami and is coming off Sunday's 4-1 win thanks to Cole Hamels' eight strikeouts over seven innings. Hamels held the Marlins to a run and five hits to finish the year at 17-6.

"I like being consistent, but at the same time there are types of numbers where I could be better," Hamels said after earning his career-best 17th win. "I would rather be consistent on a better basis. There is always improvements that can be had."

Carlos Ruiz went 3-for-4 with an RBI double and Nate Schierholtz had two hits and drove in a run for the Phillies.

Kyle Kendrick looks to keep Washington's bubbly on ice when he toes the rubber Monday night. Kendrick is 10-12 with a 4.08 earned run average in 36 games, 24 of which have been starts, this season. Kendrick has alternated wins and losses over his last six outings and lasted just two innings in Wednesday's 8-4 setback to the Nationals.

Kendrick was tagged for five runs -- four earned -- and five hits, including three home runs, and fell to 3-5 with a 5.06 ERA in 18 lifetime appearances, 16 of which have been starts, against Washington.

The Phillies are 8-7 against the Nationals this season and have prevailed in four of the previous six matchups between the division foes.

10/01 10:44:44 ET