ATLANTA – The Washington Nationals bounced up and down in unison near second base, not bothered at all by a smattering of boos from the crowd at Turner Field.
They were saving the real celebration for the clubhouse.
The Nationals wrapped up their second NL East title in three years against the team that knocked them out of the top spot last season, beating the Atlanta Braves 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Tanner Roark pitched five-hit ball over seven innings and Ian Desmond’s two-run homer broke a scoreless tie in the sixth, sending Washington back to the playoffs with nearly two weeks to spare.
“Nice to have it done,” said Washington first baseman Adam LaRoche, who began his career with the Braves. “The sooner, the better.”
In the clubhouse, the Nationals drenched each other — and pretty much anything that moved — with seemingly endless streams of beer. Lil Jon’s party anthem “Turn Down For What” boomed from the speakers. Bryce Harper, wearing goggles and a fire helmet with “34” across the front, posed for selfies with his teammates.
“We want to keep going, keep winning ballgames,” Harper said.
The clinching victory was especially sweet coming against the Braves, who finished 10 games ahead of the Nationals in 2013. The roles were reversed this season as Washington steadily pulled away down the stretch.
The teams were tied for the lead as late as July 20.
It was no contest the rest of the way. The Nationals stretched the lead to a season-high 12½ games with the victory.
“It’s just one step. There’s a long, hard road ahead of us,” Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth said. “But we’re going to enjoy the moment for now.”
The Braves fell 5½ games behind Pittsburgh for the second NL wild card with 11 games left in the season.
Cubs 7, Reds 0
In Chicago, Jake Arrieta took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning before giving up Brandon Phillips’ one-out double, the only blemish for the Cubs pitcher.
Brewers 3, Cardinals 2 (12)
In St. Louis, Carlos Gomez walked, stole second and third and scored the go-ahead run on a bloop hit by rookie Hector Gomez in the 12th inning.
Rockies 10, Dodgers 4
In Denver, Corey Dickerson homered, tripled and drove in four runs, and Tyler Matzek pitched into the sixth inning.
Giants 2, Diamondbacks 1
In Phoenix, Jake Peavy had another strong outing, Buster Posey homered, and San Francisco gained a game in the NL West race. The Giants are three games behind first-place Los Angeles with 11 to play.
Mets 9, Marlins 1
In New York, Wilmer Flores homered twice and drove in six runs for the second time this year.
Padres 5, Phillies 4
In San Diego, Alexi Amarista had three hits, including a go-ahead two-run homer.
Pirates 4, Red Sox 0
In Pittsburgh, Charlie Morton came off the disabled list to gain his first victory since July 2.