Sep 28, 2012, 4:36 AM EST
Associated Press photo
Michael Morse rounds the bases after hitting his first of two homers.
PHILADELPHIA — They’ve won 95 games, matching the franchise record. They’ve won more games than they’ve lost every month this season. They’ve played .643 ball since snapping a five-game losing streak in Miami on August 29, clubbing 51 homers during those 28 games.
But as the final week of the regular season arrives, the Nationals have yet to celebrate anything, aside from the fact they’re guaranteed to play at least one playoff game in October.
Even with Thursday night’s 7-3 thumping of the Phillies, the Nationals only inched closer to the NL East title. Their magic number now at 3, they can’t clinch the division until Saturday night in St. Louis at the earliest.
For that, they can thank the scorching-hot Braves, who simply won’t concede the East without putting up a fight right down to the wire. Winners in 10 of their last 12, they remain four games back with six to play, still needing a miracle to overtake Washington but refusing to help their rivals finish the job.
“Take nothing for granted,” manager Davey Johnson said. “I know if we win three more, we’re in, we win the pennant. That’s all I want everybody in that room to figure on.”
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