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10/04/2012 12:36 AM EDT
Teddy wins 1st, Nationals win majors-high 98th
WASHINGTON 5, PHILADELPHIA 1

By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wasn't all that long ago - in 2008 and 2009,
actually - that the Washington Nationals were losing 100 games a
season and finishing with the worst record in the majors.



Look at them now.



Already the NL East champions, the Nationals closed the regular
season by securing home-field advantage throughout the
postseason, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 Wednesday for
their majors-high 98th victory.



"It's quite an accomplishment," third baseman Ryan Zimmerman
said. "Obviously winning the division was a goal and now we've
done that and we have a chance to go do some stuff in the
playoffs. This is a great season, a great team, a good group of
guys, and we accomplished a lot that we should be proud of."



He continued: "But we have a lot more to accomplish, hopefully."



Fitted for hats with postseason patches before the game, the
Nationals will open the playoffs on the road Sunday at the
winner of Friday's wild-card game between Atlanta and St. Louis.
Game 2 will also be at the wild-card winner's stadium, before
the best-of-five series shifts to Washington. A team from the
nation's capital hasn't participated in Major League Baseball
action beyond the regular season since the Senators lost the
1933 World Series.



The only downer Wednesday for the Nationals: Manager Davey
Johnson missed the end of the game after feeling numbness in his
left leg, leaving the dugout to get X-rays and treatment from a
team doctor. Johnson - at 69, the oldest skipper in the majors -
said he does not expect to have any trouble traveling or
managing in the playoffs.



Asked his level of concern about Johnson, Nationals general
manager Mike Rizzo replied: "None."



Otherwise, it was a festive day for the announced crowd of
37,075 and the Nationals (98-64), a club that only once had
finished as high as third place since moving from Montreal in
2005. This is the first time the Expos/Nationals franchise has
won its division in a complete season.



Zimmerman hit his 25th homer of the season moments after the
Teddy Roosevelt mascot won the fourth-inning Presidents Race at
Nationals Park for the first time. Edwin Jackson (10-11) threw 6
2-3 innings to become the fifth member of the rotation with at
least 10 wins. Rookie Tyler Moore's 10th homer made him the
seven player with at least that many.



"I like where we're sitting headed into the postseason," left
fielder Jayson Werth said.



He signed with Washington as a $126 million free agent before
last season, leaving a Philadelphia club he helped win the 2008
World Series. This year's Phillies finished third in the NL East
at 81-81, ending a streak of nine consecutive winning seasons
and five playoff appearances in a row.



After the game, the Phillies announced they fired first base
coach Sam Perlozzo, bench coach Pete Mackanin and hitting coach
Greg Gross. Expect more switches to come.



"We're definitely going to have some changes on our roster,"
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "How many or what, I don't
really know."



His shortstop, Jimmy Rollins, praised the Nationals as "a
talented team," but added that if the Phillies had been healthy
this season, Washington would have been no better than a
second-place club.



Rollins sat out Wednesday, when Jackson gave up one run and six
hits and left to a standing ovation, one of several on a muggy
afternoon with the temperature in the 70s.



"At this point, it's fun facts for the organization," Jackson
said about the team's win total. "But at this point, in the
postseason, if you lose out, all that gets washed away."



Teddy's triumph ended a losing streak that drew attention even
from the White House press secretary and Sen. John McCain. Teddy
had lost more than 500 times since 2006, when the Nationals
began holding races among 10-foot-tall foam renderings of
Roosevelt, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham
Lincoln at home games.



Zimmerman then led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo
shot, Washington's first scoring off Cliff Lee (6-9).



Asked whether he'd been inspired by the outcome of the mascot
race, Zimmerman rolled his eyes.



"I am so glad Teddy won, so we can stop talking about Teddy.
People get more excited for a mascot race than a game,"
Zimmerman said, before adding in a voice drenched with sarcasm:
"Yes, I'm excited Teddy won. I'm ecstatic."



The next hitter, Michael Morse, doubled and eventually scored.
In the eighth, Morse added his 18th homer, a two-run shot off
reliever Jonathan Papelbon that drew a curtain call. Morse got
treatment after the game for a sore left hamstring, which
bothered him on his home run trot.



Lee, who finished with a losing record for the first time since
2007, departed after the sixth. He allowed eight hits and three
runs, didn't walk a batter and struck out seven.



In the eighth, Papelbon lost control of a breaking pitch that
buzzed near Zimmerman's head, drawing boos from the stands.
Papelbon wound up walking Zimmerman, who tipped his cap in
reaction to loud cheers as he walked to the dugout, replaced on
first base by pinch-runner Bryce Harper. Morse followed with a
drive to right-center.



The 19-year-old Harper and first baseman Adam LaRoche were out
of the starting lineup - a chance to get a breather before the
grind of the postseason begins.



"There's no point to go out there and try to do a little extra,
try to play a little harder. For whatever reason in baseball,
that has a tendency to work in reverse," LaRoche said. "What
we've done up to this point has obviously been good enough."



NOTES: By virtue of the NL's victory in the All-Star game, the
league's representative gets home-field advantage against the AL
in the World Series. ... The season's total attendance of
2,370,794 - an average of 30,010 - was nearly 50,000 higher than
the previous high at Nationals Park, in 2008, the first season
at the new ballpark. ... Philadelphia 1B Darin Ruf delivered a
sac fly in the fourth. He has driven in all eight Phillies runs
in their last four games against Washington. ... Phillies RHP
Tyson Brummett made his major league debut in the eighth,
allowing two singles and striking out two batters. ... The
Phillies' nine winning seasons matched a team record set from
1975-83. They went 81-81 in 1984.



---



Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at
http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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