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09/28/08 6:10 PM ET

Nationals drop season finale to Phillies

Acta hopeful club will show improvement after tough year

WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Manny Acta decided to start his reserves on Sunday afternoon against the Phillies. The bench players gave it their all, but Washington lost, 8-3, at Citizens Bank Park.

The Nationals finished the season at 59-102 and will get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. Acta didn't waste time telling the media how he felt about the season.

"It was a poor season regardless of whatever happened," Acta said. "Hopefully, we can look back at it and get better next year. We need to make some improvements. It's a not a secret. Hopefully, we can get an impact bat and a couple of arms and go from there. We do have a lot of young guys here. Some of them showed what they can do. Hopefully, we have a few pieces."

Starter Odalis Perez started for the Nationals and had flu-like symptoms before the game started, but decided to gut it out. He was given a 3-1 lead after 3 1/2 innings, thanks to RBI hits by Kory Casto and Alberto Gonzalez, but Philadelphia came back against Perez in the bottom of the fourth. So Taguchi highlighted the scoring with a two-run single before Perez left the game because of his illness.

Perez started feeling worse by the second inning, when he told trainer Lee Kuntz that he was feeling dizzy. By the fourth inning, Perez couldn't go any further.

Perez, who finished the season 7-12 with a 4.34 ERA, believes he did a good job and wants to come back to the Nationals. He is expected to file for free agency.

"If the team gives me another opportunity next year or the next two years, I'll be happy to do it," Perez said. "I think I did well. I feel more comfortable. I would love to come back."

The Phillies put the season finale out of reach in the eighth when Lou Marson and Matt Stairs hit back-to-back home runs.

The highlight for Nationals was in the top of the third, when rookie catcher Luke Montz hit his first career homer.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.