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Unlike previous years, when they counted on a potent offense, the Phillies relied on outstanding pitching in 2010. Led by Halladay, 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt -- picked up from Houston in a trade-deadline deal -- the starting rotation dominated, especially in September.
What a stretch run: Philadelphia is 20-5 this month, its most wins in September since compiling 22 in 1983.
And the Phillies have gone 46-17 since July 21, when they trailed Atlanta by seven games. Eight days later, they got Oswalt, forming as fearsome a threesome of starters as there is in the majors.
Looking to become the first team in 66 years to win three consecutive National League championships, the Phillies started this season strong, before injuries and an inconsistent offense took a toll. Six of Philadelphia's eight regulars spent time on the disabled list, and nearly all saw their production decline. At one point, Howard, Chase Utley, and Shane Victorino were absent during a nearly two-week stretch in August.
But the Phillies managed to overtake the Braves and continue their recent run of success.
"For years, to win the division, you had to go through Atlanta," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "Now you've got to go through Philadelphia."
His team is all-too-familiar with that: The Phillies wrapped things up with late-season victories over the Nationals in 2007 and 2008, too.
Another division title won and celebrated, now Howard, Halladay and the rest of the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies can move on to other goals.
"To do what we've done the last four years here is a great accomplishment, and we're well aware," Werth said, soaking wet from head to toe. "But there's bigger things at stake, and we know where we want to end up."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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