PHILADELPHIA (AP) — At some point, Dusty Baker will sit down and start thinking about the Chicago Cubs.
That wasn’t the main topic on the Washington Nationals manager’s mind Wednesday night.
“My thoughts are to finish the season strong, then to worry about Chicago,” Baker said after falling by a 7-5 margin to the Philadelphia Phillies. “We want to finish strong and to go into the new season with some momentum.”
For the Nationals, who clinched the NL East more than two weeks ago, Wednesday’s most significant action occurred in St. Louis. That’s where the Cubs beat the Cardinals to wrap up the NL Central and ensure they will play Washington in the NL Division Series starting Oct. 6.
Washington won four of the seven games against the Cubs in the regular season.
“It will be fun,” said Washington starter Tanner Roark, an Illinois native who could possibly start Game 4 of the Division Series at Wrigley Field. “It will be loud.”
Roark (13-11) struggled with command, walking five hitters and allowing six earned runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.
“I just didn’t feel like I had anything,” Roark said. “I was battling myself to throw strikes. They took advantage of some fastballs. It was one of those games.”
Michael A. Taylor homered among his three hits for Washington. Trea Turner reached base all five times and recorded his 44th stolen base of the season.
Bryce Harper went 1 for 4 with a single and scored a run in his second game since returning from the disabled list with hyperextended left knee.
For the Phillies, Aaron Altherr tied the game at 5 with a triple in the fifth. He later scored on Odubel Herrera’s double.
Rookie Yacksel Rios (1-0) got his first career victory, getting two outs in the fifth in relief of starter Mark Leiter Jr.
Phillies relievers threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings after throwing four perfect innings in Tuesday’s win.
Hector Neris worked a perfect ninth for his 20th consecutive save conversion and 26th in 29 opportunities overall. It is the most for a Phillies reliever since Brad Lidge converted all 41 save opportunities during the 2008 season.
In their last 30 games dating back to Aug. 27, Phillies reliever have posted a 2.52 ERA.
“I’m proud of the guys, the fact that they play hard the entire season in my opinion,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “We just didn’t have the offense clicking the first half and that was part of our problems. But in the second half things started clicking. We started playing better baseball.”
Phillies C Jorge Alfaro has reached base in 24 of his 27 games since being called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. . Taylor has hit five homers in his last seven game against the Phillies. . Daniel Murphy improved his average to .398 with runners in scoring position this season.
Nationals: Washington is sending OF Brian Goodwin — who has been out since Aug. 13 with a strained groin — to the Florida Instructional League this weekend with the goal of getting at-bats that could allow him to return for the Nationals’ postseason roster as a fourth outfielder.
“Goody appears to be kind of on target to maybe be available in the first round,” Baker said.
Murphy returned to Washington’s lineup on Wednesday after missing the past two games with a sore hamstring.
Nationals: Washington returns to start its final series of the regular season at home on Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Edwin Jackson will get the start against Ivan Nova.
Phillies: After a day off, Philadelphia will finish its schedule with three games at Citizens Bank Park against the New York Mets. On Friday night, it will be Ben Lively (3-7, 4.35) making his final appearance of 2017. He will be matched up against Mets starter Matt Harvey (5-6, 6.60).