Nationals clinch NL East after Braves lose to Pirates - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Nationals clinch NL East after Braves lose to Pirates

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PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Atlanta Braves' hopes of winning the National League East ended Monday night with a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates that clinched the division title for the Washington Nationals.

The Braves, who needed to sweep the Pirates and have first-place Washington drop three games to Philadelphia to tie for the division lead, will instead be the top wild card team when the postseason begins Thursday.

Starling Marte hit his sixth home run of the season and scored twice to lead the Pirates.

Atlanta managed just two hits against Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke (1-3), who picked up his first major league win. Jared Hughes worked the ninth for his second save in place of regular closer Joel Hanrahan.

Paul Maholm (13-11) gave up two runs in seven innings while losing to his former team for the first time, striking out eight and walking three.

Nationals wrap up NL East title despite loss
WASHINGTON (AP) -
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.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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