Despite trailing the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday in the ninth inning, the Washington Nationals are the National League East champions because the Atlanta Braves fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2-1.
It’s the Nationals first NL East crown since baseball returned to Washington in 2005, and the first time a team based here will play in the postseason since 1933.
Nationals starter John Lannan struggled with command and allowed two runs on six hits, walking three batters over five innings. The Phillies scored the game’s only runs in the second inning thanks to a two-run triple by Darin Ruf, whose fly ball to deep left-center field slammed against the wall and center fielder Bryce Harper did, too, chasing it down.
The Nationals could muster little against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, who they battered around last week. Kendrick fooled the Nationals for seven innings, allowing only four hits, only one of them an extra-base hit.
In the middle of the eighth inning, the Nationals scoreboard showed the score of the Pirates-Braves game and the home run by Starling Marte that was the winning difference. The crowd erupted and cheered; players in the dugout looked up at the scoreboard.
The Pirates win eliminated the Braves’ chance at catching the Nationals with two games left, and handed the Nationals their first NL East title. The giant right field scoreboard showed the final result as the Nationals were coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning and the crowd erupted. Manager Davey Johnson stood on the dugout steps and raises his fists to the crowd and players high-fived each other in the dugout.