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Braves lose to Pirates, Nationals clinch NL East

The Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East, with the Pittsburgh Pirates coming through for the Nats by defeating the Atlanta Braves, 2-1. The Nationals' magic number was at one entering Monday's games, and either a win by Washington or a loss by the Braves would do it. The Bucs obliged.

Pittsburgh, which was assured of yet another losing season on Sunday, edged out Atlanta on the strength of a start by Jeff Locke. The young lefty was making just his sixth start of the season, and it was his best performance on the mound for the Bucs. He danced around five walks, and gave up only two hits in six innings. A Jason Heyward single in the third would drive in the only Atlanta run of the evening.

The Pirates' dynamic rookie outfielder, Starling Marte, would do the damage on offense to clinch the win. After the Braves broke the scoreless tie in the third, Marte responded quickly with a leadoff triple against Paul Maholm. He would score on the very next pitch, as Chase D'Arnaud grounded out to the left side and the Bucs' rookie scooted home from third.

In his next at-bat, Marte would put the Pirates ahead for good. He took a 2-1 offering from Maholm to straightway center to give Pittsburgh the 2-1 lead. The Pittsburgh bullpen would clean up the final three innings, securing the win and an NL East crown for Washington.