(Sports Network) - While the Philadelphia Phillies have officially turned their eyes to playoff baseball, there are still some formalities to go through first.
One day after clinching both its fourth straight National League East title and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, Philadelphia shoots for a sixth straight victory over the Washington Nationals this evening at Nationals Park.
The Phillies reached 94 victories with an 8-0 shutout of the Nationals in last night's opener of a three-game set, with Cy Young Award candidate Roy Halladay throwing a two-hitter. He faced the minimum over the first seven frames and struck out six to win his MLB-leading 21st game of the season.
Jayson Werth hit a solo homer and drove in four runs for the Phillies, who are 20-5 in September and joined the Atlanta Braves (1991-93, 1995-2005) and New York Giants (1921-24) as the only other NL teams to reach the postseason in four straight seasons.
"This is probably one of the best teams we've had over the last four years," Werth said. "We're right where we need to be."
That's solid praise for a team that won the 2008 World Series and will have home-field advantage as long as they remain in the playoffs, thanks to their record and the NL's victory in the All-Star Game.
Philadelphia figures to be a tough opponent in the upcoming postseason due to a pitching staff that features Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt, who seeks an eighth straight winning decision this evening.
Oswalt is 7-1 with a 1.76 earned run average in 11 starts with Philadelphia since being acquired from Houston in late July. He has allowed one run or fewer in six of his last seven starts and carried a four-start winning streak into last Wednesday's outing versus Atlanta. The 33-year-old was excellent in a no-decision, giving up just one hit and a single walk with eight strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.
Oswalt is 13-13 with a 2.80 ERA in 31 combined starts this season, including a loss at Nationals Park in his Phillies debut on July 30. The right-hander was charged with five runs -- four earned -- over six innings, but has bested Washington twice since while allowing just a run over 13 innings.
Nats starter Jason Marquis was drilled for six runs while recording just a single out the last time he faced the Phillies, back on Sept. 17. The right- hander, who will pitch for Washington tonight, fell to 5-7 with a 5.60 ERA lifetime against Philadelphia, but bounced back in Wednesday's home outing versus Houston.
The 32-year-old gave up just a pair of runs on seven hits and one walk over six-plus innings of a no-decision against the Astros, and is 2-9 with a 7.18 ERA in 12 starts this year.
In his first season with Washington, Marquis will take one final stab at his first home victory of 2010, as he is 0-5 with a 7.57 ERA in six outings at Nationals Park.
The Phillies have won 11 of the 16 overall meetings with Washington this year, taking four of seven so far at Nationals Park.