RACE TO THE PENNANT

MLB Playoffs 2012: Washington Nationals can clinch NL East title Monday

Bryce Harper and the Nationals are just one win away from the division title. Photo: Associated Press
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And the Washington Nationals wait.

Already assured of the capital's first postseason baseball since 1933, the Nationals remained stalled in their drive for the NL East title when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals 10-4 Sunday.

Washington (96-63) saw its magic number for clinching the division remain at one with three games remaining. The Nationals return home to face Philadelphia starting Monday, while Atlanta plays at Pittsburgh.

Washington, 16-12 in September, is seeking the franchise's first division crown since the Montreal Expos won the East in 1981.

"We've played all year to get to this point," Jayson Werth said. "Now we've got one game to win, and we get to do it at home."

All it would take for the Nationals to pop the champagne on Monday night is a victory over the Philadelphia Phillies or at Atlanta loss in the Steel City. If either of those happen, a wild celebration in the Nationals clubhouse and along Half Street is afoot.

John Lannan will take the hill for the Nationals on Monday night against Kyle Kendrick. The first pitch of both the Nationals/Phillies and Braves/Pirates games are set for 7:05 p.m.

In other important Monday night action, the St. Louis Cardinals can wrap up the National League's final Wild Card spot if they defeat Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Dodgers fall to the San Francisco Giants.

The Nationals are still battling for the NL's top record with Cincinnati; both teams enter the final week of the season with 96-63 records. The team with the league's top record will carry home-field advantage through the World Series.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Monday's key National League games

7:05 p.m.: Philadelphia at Washington
7:05 p.m.: Atlanta at Pittsburgh
8:15 p.m.: Cincinnati at St. Louis
10:10 p.m.: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco


National League East standings (X - Clinched playoff spot)

  Wins Losses Win % Games Back E-Number
X - Washington Nationals 96 63 .604 ---- ----
X - Atlanta Braves 93 66 .585 3 2

Race for Home Field Advantage (X - Clinched playoff spot, Y - Clinched division title)
 
  Wins Losses Win % Games Back
X - Washington Nationals 96 63 .604 ----
Y - Cincinnati Reds 96 63 .604 ----
Y - San Francisco Giants 93 66 .585 3
National League Wild Card standings (Top two teams qualify for postseason, X - Clinched playoff spot)

  Wins Losses Games Back
X - Atlanta Braves 91 66 ----
St. Louis Cardinals 86 73 ----
Los Angeles Dodgers 84 75 2

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