WASHINGTON (AP) - The NL East champion Washington Nationals secured home-field advantage throughout the postseason by beating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 Wednesday for their majors-high 98th victory, with Ryan Zimmerman homering moments after the Teddy Roosevelt mascot won the Presidents Race at Nationals Park for the first time.
By winning their regular-season finale, the Nationals clinched top seeding for the NL playoffs and will open on the road Sunday at the winner of Friday's wild-card game between Atlanta and St. Louis. Game 2 will also be at the wild-card winner's stadium, before the best-of-five series shifts to Washington.
Before Wednesday's game, the Nationals were fitted for hats with postseason patches. A team from the nation's capital hasn't participated in Major League Baseball action beyond the regular season since the Senators lost the 1933 World Series.
A team from the nation's capital hasn't participated in Major League Baseball action beyond the regular season since the Senators lost the 1933 World Series.
All in all, it was a festive day for the announced crowd of 37,075 and the Nationals (98-64), a club that hadn't finished higher than third place since moving from Montreal in 2005 and twice lost 100 games in a season.
This is the first time the Expos/Nationals franchise has finished first in a complete season.
Philadelphia finished third in the division at 81-81, ending a streak of nine straight winning seasons and five consecutive playoff appearances.
The nine winning seasons matched the team record set from 1975-83 - the Phillies followed that by going 81-81 in 1984.