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The Washington Nationals lost to the Philadelphia Phillies last night, but an Atlanta Braves' loss in Pittsburgh handed the Nats the NL East crown.
"The Nats took over first place in the NL East for good on May 22nd with a win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Washington held first place in the division for all but ten days this season and in spite of the fact that Atlanta was on their heels all summer long, climbing to within 2.0 games of the division lead as late as the first week of August, the Nationals fought the Braves off, winning when things got desperate, taking series all year and tonight clinching the division for the first time since baseball returned to the nation's capital in 2005.
"The 1924 Washington Senators, the first D.C.-based team to win a pennant, experienced many of the same challenges on their way to the first of three division crowns won by a D.C.-based team before the Nationals this year. The Washington Post's Frank H. Young wrote at the time, on September 29, 1924, that it was the New York Yankees then who were playing the role the Braves filled this season, pursuing the '24 Senators for the American League crown all summer long, but it was first year skipper Bucky Harris that made the difference for that year's team according to the WaPost writer, much as Davey Johnson has influenced the 2012 Nats' rapid ascent:
"'Had there been anything 'yellow' in the Washington make-up, the Yankees would now have their fourth consecutive championship tucked away, for twice they have been on their heels right along, but Harris and his men on all occasions when necessary have been able to rise to dizzy heights and shake them off."
"There wasn't anything 'yellow' about the 2012 Nationals' make-up either...
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