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National League Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, September 30th (All times Eastern)

Washington Nationals (96-62) at St. Louis Cardinals (85-73), 2:15 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Washington - Ross Detwiler (10-7, 3.28) St. Louis - Lance Lynn (17-7, 3.69)

(Sports Network) - Winning their first NL East title since relocating from Montreal is all but locked up for the Washington Nationals.

The St. Louis Cardinals wish their playoff hopes were in equal standing.

With a magic number of one, the Nats close out a three-game series on Sunday afternoon against the Cards, who are holding onto a slim margin in the NL wild card race.

Washington evened this series with a 6-4 victory on Saturday in 10 innings. Michael Morse hit a grand slam in the first inning, but the Nationals' offense went silent until Kurt Suzuki's two-run double in the 10th inning.

The Nats maintained their four-game lead over the second-place Atlanta Braves with four games to play. They'll clinch the division with their next victory over a loss by the Braves, who close out a three-game series with the New York Mets on Sunday.

"These games definitely get you ready," Suzuki said referring to the playoffs. "Those guys are scrappy, they're a good team."

Washington, winners in three of its last four, also moved a game up on the Cincinnati Reds for the best record in the majors.

Jon Jay drove in two runs for the Cardinals, including the game-tying run with a sac fly in the bottom of the ninth, but they're second loss in seven games cut their margin over the Los Angeles Dodgers for a wild card position to two.

"We came back from a four-run deficit, that's a pretty good spark," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The team didn't roll over. That's not the issue. We got close, but didn't finish it off."

Following this series, the Cards will welcome the NL Central-champion Reds to town, while the Dodgers host the NL West-winning San Francisco Giants after ending a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies on Sunday.

The Cardinals pin their hopes today on Lance Lynn, who has won four straight appearances, including three starts in a row since rejoining the rotation.

The right-hander is coming off back-to-back wins over the Houston Astros, allowing one run and striking out 14 over a combined 13 1/3 frames. That pushed his season record to 17-7 with a 3.69 earned run average in 34 games this year, 28 of those starts.

Lynn, 25, will face the Nationals for the first time as a starter, having allowed four runs over two innings in two previous relief outings against them.

Ross Detwiler looks to pitch Washington to the NL East crown, but is coming off a rough outing at the Philadelphia Phillies that ended a three-decision winning streak.

Detwiler yielded five runs on five hits three walks over five innings of a 6-3 loss. The lefty yielded a solo homer in the second frame and a three-run shot in the third as part of a four-run inning.

The 26-year-old is 10-7 with a 3.28 ERA in 32 games this season, including 26 starts, and will face the Cardinals for the first time in his career.

The Nationals have won 10 of their past 14 versus the Cardinals, including three of four at home from Aug. 30-Sept. 2.

09/30 10:31:32 ET