Sep 30, 2012, 2:54 AM EDT
Associated Press photo
Michael Morse is congratulated by Adam LaRoche following his unusual grand slam.
Updated at 12:55 a.m.
ST. LOUIS — The champagne was on site, stored away in crates out of view from the main room in the visitors clubhouse at Busch Stadium. So, too, were the plastic locker covers, the ones that can quickly be installed to prevent all that champagne from ruining clothes, jewelry and electronics.
The Nationals showed up Saturday afternoon prepared for a party, just in case events fell their way. But before their 6-4, 10-inning victory over the Cardinals was complete, they already knew there would be no celebration on this night. The Braves’ 2-0 win over the Mets kept the NL East race alive for at least one more day.
For the first time all season, though, the Nationals know they don’t need to count on Atlanta for anything else. Their magic number now down to 1, they need simply win one of their final four games to wrap up the division title and enter the postseason no worse than the NL’s No. 2 seed.
“I mean, it’s the best position you can be in,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position all year. I remember when we first started talking about this a month or a month-and-a-half ago. We did everything we could to give ourselves a chance, and now we’re to the ultimate position where we’ve given ourselves the best chance.”
NL EAST STANDINGS
TUE: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
WED: Nats at Marlins, 12:40 p.m.
THU: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Orioles at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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