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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Old. Guys. Rule!!!!!!!

PHILADELPHIA -- When Pat Burrell lofted a sacrifice fly own the right-field line in the fourth inning, scoring Chase Utley with run No. 1, the crowd stirred.

When Carlos Ruiz sent another sacrifice fly to right three batters later, the buzz grew louder. Jayson Werth's homer in the fifth produced a crescendo.

But when closer Brad Lidge sealed Saturday's 4-3 Phillies win over the Nationals and capture a second straight National League East title -- Philadelphia's first back-to-back division championships since taking three in a row in 1976-78 -- it was downright euphoric at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies are going to the playoffs again.

Before the game, Jimmy Rollins grooved while singing along with Rick James' "Superfreak." Later, the lyrics "Celebrate good times" piped through large speakers.

A few hours later, the 45,177 fans at Citizens Bank joined the party.

Since the Mets declined to comply by winning earlier in the day, the Phillies sealed the division by beating the Nationals in Game 161. They clinched a day earlier than in 2007, when it went down to the final day.

White rally towels waved furiously as the game continued, punctuating a playoff atmosphere. After the game, the Phils doused themselves with champagne and shared the moment with fans.

For the second straight season, the Phillies chased down the Mets in the NL East. The Phils trailed by a season-high 3 1/2 games on Sept. 11, but rallied to claim first place for good on Sept. 20. In its best month, Philadelphia went 16-8 with one game remaining.

The Phillies await either the Dodgers or Brewers in the NL Division Series, which begins Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park. Cole Hamels likely won't pitch on Sunday and will be rested for Game 1.

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At 10:45 PM, Blogger Charlie on the PA Turnpike said...

Have to tip my hat to the Phillies.

While this year's flame-out was decidedly less dramatic than last year's, it still would have been nice to have seen a real division play-off between them.


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