WASHINGTON – Thanks to strong pitching from Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper’s burst of energy and Adam LaRoche’s slugging, the Washington Nationals won enough from April through September that even a loss on the first day of October could not stop them from clinching the NL East.
Despite being beaten 2-0 by the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday night, the Nationals earned their first division title since moving from Montreal in 2005, because the second-place Atlanta Braves lost 2-1 at the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Washington, in first since May 22, leads Atlanta by three games with two to play in the regular season. The Braves’ loss finished as the top of the ninth inning ended in Washington, and the Nationals celebrated in their dugout with hugs, high-fives and spiked gloves.
When Michael Morse led off the bottom of the ninth, the PA announcer informed the crowd that the home team was the champion, and when the game, ended red fireworks lit the night sky.
CARDINALS 4, REDS 2: In St. Louis, Jaime Garcia homered off Bronson Arroyo and pitched into the seventh inning, helping St. Louis Cardinals clinch a tie for the second NL wild card and spoil Dusty Baker’s return from a mini-stroke.
ASTROS 3, CUBS 0: In Chicago, Chicago got their 100th loss of the season when Lucas Harrell threw six shutout innings to lead the Astros. The Cubs lost 100 games in a season for the first time since 1966 and were shut out for the 14th time this season.
PIRATES 2, BRAVES 1: In Pittsburgh, Atlanta’s hopes of winning the National League East ended in a loss that clinched the division title for Washington.
MARLINS 3, METS 2: In Miami, Giancarlo Stanton hit his 37th homer, and Rob Brantly hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning to lift Miami.
BREWERS 5, PADRES 3: In Milwaukee, Carlos Gomez, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy all hit home runs to lead Milwaukee.