- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

WASHINGTON | Adam Dunn has been saying for some time he’d like to remain with the Washington Nationals, even though he can become a free agent. He also insists he doesn’t know whether he’ll stay or go.

The fans at Nationals Park are making their feelings on the matter clear.

Dunn hit a game-ending homer off Jose Contreras leading off the ninth inning Tuesday night to give last-place Washington a 2-1 victory over the NL East champion Philadelphia Phillies, who were more interested in seeing Jimmy Rollins go 1 for 3 in his first start in nearly three weeks.

Each of Dunn’s at-bats Tuesday was greeted with chants of “Sign Adam Dunn!” from some in the crowd of 19,117.

If the slugging first baseman leaves, Wednesday’s Phillies-Nationals game would be his last appearance in Washington as a member of the home team.

“I’m not going to go into tomorrow going, ‘This is my last home game ever,’ cry, go hand out Adam Dunn baseball cards. I’m not going to do that,” Dunn said. “I don’t know what y’all want me to say. I don’t know what’s going to happen. If I did, I would tell y’all. I do not.”

Dunn, who previously played for the Reds and Diamondbacks, said he appreciates the fan support he’s received in Washington and noted: “It’s not like they’re waiting for you to make a mistake, like other places I’ve been.”

When he won the game with his 38th homer and his 103rd RBI, both team highs, by driving a 2-0 pitch from Contreras (6-4), the other Nationals streamed out of the dugout and gathered around home plate to greet Dunn with slaps on the back and punches to the gut.

“I didn’t see the ball land,” said Drew Storen (4-4), who pitched the ninth to earn the win. “I started fist-pumping right after he hit it, just because I could tell.”

Later, in the clubhouse, Dunn bristled at questions about his future.

“If you guys realized how sick and tired I am of talking about it, you probably wouldn’t ask me every day,” he said. “I wish it would have been over a long time ago. It’s not the worst thing that ever happened to me, (but) my job is to play, and my agent’s job is to worry about the rest.”

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman seemed to indicate before the game he thinks Dunn will wind up staying in Washington.

Afterward, Riggleman said: “This thing is going to play itself out. I don’t know where it’s going to end up.”

Dunn’s dramatics aside, the result of Tuesday’s game was meaningless, in the sense that the Phillies clinched home-field advantage throughout the postseason a night earlier — and the Nationals are assured of finishing last for the fifth time in six seasons.

But there were some matters of importance for the Phillies (94-64), who begin their NL division series at home Oct. 6.

“We’ve got to keep getting our players some playing time,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We’ve got to try and keep them sharp.”

That’s why 2007 NL MVP Rollins played 5½ innings at shortstop and batted leadoff. Sidelined by a tight right hamstring, Rollins hadn’t been in the lineup since Sept. 8. He did have one at-bat as a pinch hitter Sunday, but Manuel sat Rollins out Monday because rain made the field slick.

Rollins grounded out in the first and third innings Tuesday, then singled in the fifth.

“I won’t be 100 percent until next February — probably,” Rollins said. “I just won’t steal bases unless it’s 100 percent a necessity. I want to get as much rest as I can, do as much as I can with it before I have to push it.”

Roy Oswalt allowed two hits and two walks and no earned runs in five innings, leaving what he expects to be his last regular-season start after only 66 pitches.

“He got his work in,” Manuel said. “I liked the way he pitched.”

Manuel said he has decided, but isn’t ready to reveal, the order in which he’ll use his three best starting pitchers — Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels — in the playoffs. Manuel did announce after the game that Halladay won’t appear again in the regular season.

While regulars Ibanez, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley all played Tuesday, Manuel allowed Jayson Werth, Placido Polanco and Carlos Ruiz a full night of rest, and used Shane Victorino only as a pinch hitter in the ninth. Manuel plans to give other starters days off before the regular season ends Sunday.

Polanco is leaving the Phillies to go to Philadelphia to have his left elbow checked by the team doctor. Polanco was on the disabled list from June 26 to July 16 with swelling in that elbow.

NOTES: The Phillies clinched a fourth consecutive division championship and the NL’s best record by beating Washington 8-0 Monday. … Nationals starter Jason Marquis left with the score tied 1-1, having allowed Raul Ibanez’s 16th homer leading off the fourth. Marquis gave up seven hits in six innings in his last start of 2010. He finishes with a 2-9 record.




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