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.
PITTSBURGH — 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.
MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton hit his 37th homer, and Rob Brantly hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the eighth inning to help the Miami Marlins beat the New York Mets.
Heath Bell (4-5) pitched a scoreless eighth inning and Steve Cishek pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 19 chances. Cishek issued a two-out walk to Fred Lewis before Ike Davis grounded out to end the game, giving the Marlins their second win in 11 games.
ST. LOUIS — Jaime Garcia homered off Bronson Arroyo and pitched into the seventh inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals clinch a tie for the second NL wild card and spoil Dusty Baker's return from a mini-stroke with a victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs got their 100th loss of the season when Lucas Harrell threw six shutout innings to lead the Houston Astros to a win.
MILWAUKEE — Carlos Gomez, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy all hit home runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a win over the San Diego Padres.