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Citizens Bank Park
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Cliff Lee tossed seven sharp innings to earn his first home win in nearly a year and the Philadelphia Phillies completed a three-game sweep against the major league-leading Washington Nationals with a 4-1 victory on Sunday.
Six innings had passed the Washington Nationals by Saturday night when Ryan Zimmerman looked up at the scoreboard to see Roy Halladay's pitch count. What he saw was confirmation of what he and the rest of the Nationals had felt in the batter's box all night. Halladay was throwing nothing but strikes.
When you consider the hurdles he had to jump, the fact that Chad Tracy was on the field preparing for batting practice at Citizens Bank Park on Friday afternoon was remarkable in itself. That he was discussing the first guaranteed contract he'd signed since he was arbitration eligible with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007 made it all the more astounding.
When the Washington Nationals arrive at Citizens Bank Park on Friday, Bryce Harper will prepare to play his 102nd game in the majors. It will be his 102nd game in the past 118 days, a grueling stretch that bests any the 19-year-old phenom has experienced — and that doesn't include the 21 he played in Triple-A in April.
The kind of magic that fans in Washington hope will fill Nationals Park this fall is something those in Philadelphia are used to at Citizens Bank Park. From a magical run in 2007 through a 102-win campaign in 2011, the Phillies set the standard.
Four Washington Nationals were named to the 2012 National League All-Star team. Three of them are here for the event, joined by principal owner Ted Lerner, representing one of the most intriguing teams in baseball this season.
It used to be that baseball fans would head for the concourse to grab a beer between innings, a cold one as much a part of America's pastime as hotdogs and Cracker Jack.
In a sweatshirt and shorts, looking relaxed as usual, Ian Desmond sat on a couch inside the visitors' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday watching an afternoon game. The night before, he'd hit a home run. The night before that, he'd hit a home run. Before that, it was doubles in back-to-back games.
As Henry Rodriguez took the mound at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, all eyes from the Washington Nationals' dugout and bullpen were on him. The warm-up pitches, they knew, would tell them all they needed to know.