Associated Press photo
Michael Morse is congratulated by Adam LaRoche following his unusual grand slam.
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."