Phillies armed for playoff chase

Despite their loss to Washington Monday (which dropped Philadelphia into third place, a half game behind the revived Nationals and 5 behind the trendsetting Braves), the buzz in South Philly has turned guardedly positive in the past week.

Famous for some memorably dreadful left coast trips in recent years, the Phillies had just completed a short but sweet West Coast swing Sunday in which they won five of six against the Dodgers and Padres. The fans in South Philly and South Jersey took due notice. More than 7,600 walk-up tickets were sold for Monday's game (more than 9,000 counting Internet sales), a record in the brief history of Citizen's Bank Park.

Not much to shout about? Maybe so, but in a tough sports town, where brotherly love can often be hard to come by if you're on a losing team, any degree of dogged optimism in the dog days of mid-August is welcome.