Game in a nutshell: Perhaps needing a pick-me-up after two frustrating losses to the Phillies the last two nights, the Nationals got one late in the afternoon when they learned Jayson Werth would be activated off the disabled list and appear in his first game since he broke his left wrist May 6. Werth was solid in his return, roping a base hit in his first at-bat and adding an RBI groundout in his second.
But the real pick-me-up came from the left-hander on the mound: Ross Detwiler, who turned in seven scoreless innings to out-duel Cole Hamels and improve to 6-4 with a 3.02 ERA for the season. Adam LaRoche's 20th homer of the season (plus some well-timed defensive gaffes by the Phillies infield) provided all the run support Detwiler needed, and Sean Burnett and Tyler Clippard closed out a much-needed victory to avoid a series sweep and maintain at least a 2 12-game lead over the Braves.
Hitting highlight: Remember those fears about a month ago that LaRoche's season was careening off the rails? Well, he's certainly gotten things back on track. Since June 30, the veteran first baseman is hitting .333 with five homers, six doubles and 16 RBI. With a three-hit performance tonight -- including a second-deck bomb in the second inning -- LaRoche raised his season average back to .271, his home run total to 20 and his RBI total to 64. Combined with his stellar defensive play and his calming clubhouse influence, he's been invaluable to this team.
Pitching highlight: Detwiler's night actually started off a bit shaky: He put six men on base over the first three innings and seemed to be playing with fire. He sure doused those flames in a hurry. The left-hander proceeded to retire the final 14 batters he faced in succession, getting stronger and more efficient as the night progressed. Detwiler ended the seventh inning with only 88 pitches and probably could've been sent back out for the eighth for only the second time in his career. But Davey Johnson decided to play it safe with his No. 5 starter, who now boasts a 2.55 ERA in seven starts since rejoining the Nationals' rotation.
Key stat: With only 26, the Nationals are tied with the Cubs for the fewest unearned runs allowed in the NL this season.
Up next: It's supposed to be a beautiful evening Friday, maybe they should play two! Actually, they will. John Lannan returns from Syracuse to face Marlins lefty Brad Hand at 4:05 p.m., then 25 minutes after the conclusion of that game, Gio Gonzalez and Josh Johnson take the mound for the nightcap of the single-admission doubleheader.