WASHINGTON — Thanks to strong pitching from Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper's burst of energy and Adam LaRoche's slugging, the 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 losing 2-0 to the Phillies on Monday night, the Nationals earned their first division title since moving from Montreal in 2005 because the second-place Braves lost 2-1 at Pittsburgh.
Washington, in first since May 22, leads Atlanta by three games with two to play. 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 with the Capitol building off in the distance beyond leftfield.