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Nats unable to keep Phils from East title

Nats unable to keep Phils from East title

WASHINGTON -- For the third time in four seasons, the Nationals allowed the Phillies to clinch the National League East title. This time, the location was Nationals Park as the Nationals were blanked by the Phillies, 8-0, on Monday night.

"The Phillies are pretty good," left-hander John Lannan said. "They battled. They don't have many holes in their lineup."

The outcome of the game and the many Phillies fans at the park didn't sit well with shortstop Ian Desmond. He felt the Nationals were the road team.

"It was kind of embarrassing. Everyone in the stadium is clapping against you and you are at home. It's not really where you want to be," Desmond said. "I wanted to go out there to win that game and show them we can play with them. We took two out of three from the Braves. We played them well all year. [And now], 8-0 is kind of ridiculous."

Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay pitched a two-hitter and won his 21st game of the season. Wilson Ramos and Adam Dunn were the only Nationals to get hits.

"He was using all of his pitches. He was throwing the ball in the zone. He has a great catcher [Carlos Ruiz] back there calling a great game," Desmond said.

For Halladay, it will be the first time in his 13-year career that he will play in the postseason.

"You obviously know [about winning a division title], but you don't put a different emphasis on the game," Halladay said. "You try to pitch your game. I felt good, though. We scored some runs, which made it easier going into the late innings."

Lannan pitched his final game of the season, tossing 5 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on seven hits.

It was Jayson Werth who did most of the damage off Lannan. Werth hit a home run in the second and a two-run double in the sixth. In the sixth, reliever Craig Stammen allowed an RBI double to Ruiz to make it a four-run game. The run was charged to Lannan.

"I was OK. Werth is really hot right now. He beat me twice in the game and it hurt," Lannan said.

For the season, Lannan went 8-8 with a 4.65 ERA. After a rough start out of the gate, it looked like he was going to have a season to forget, but coming back from Double-A Harrisburg, he went 6-3 with a 3.57 ERA.

"I liked the way I bounced back from my demotion," Lannan said. "These last couple of starts are something to build on going into next season. It was a tough one. I wish I could have ended it a little stronger. I just learned from it. I'm going to face these Phillies a lot. I learned some stuff today. I just move on and get ready for next season."

The Phils put the game out of reach by scoring four runs in the ninth inning off right-hander Joe Bisenius.

With the loss, the Nationals dropped to 67-90. It marked the third year in a row in which they lost at least 90 games.

At first, Desmond didn't have any answers on how Washington can improve its on-field product, but then, as he has proven all season, he is not afraid to speak his mind.

"We definitely have to play better than that," Desmond said. "I don't know. We lost a lot of games this year. A lot of them have hurt but that one -- 8-0. We had chance to not let them celebrate on our field. It would have been pretty sweet to be beat Roy Halladay. It didn't happen. It was a tough loss."

Manager Jim Riggleman didn't hesitate with his answer about how the Nats can improve: Have better pitching and defense with timely hitting.

"Certainly, we're not satisfied with 67 wins," Riggleman said. "I think what you are alluding to is that the Phillies are winning 90-plus and we are losing 90-plus. There is a gap there we have to close, and we have to close it by playing better baseball and just raising the bar for what our expectations are and meet those expectations. But nobody is going to let you do it. They are not going to let you win ballgames."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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