By Steve Ginsburg
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Washington Nationals lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0 on Monday but still managed to clinch the National League East title when second-placed Atlanta lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Washington (96-64) managed only five hits on a chilly night with intermittent drizzle at Nationals Park but received a gift when the Braves lost 2-1 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
During the ninth inning when the Braves' loss was flashed on the scoreboard, the spirited crowd stood and cheered, while the Nationals players hugged in the dugout.
The success-starved Nationals had not had a winning season since arriving in Washington from Montreal in 2005 and will make the postseason for only the second time in the franchise's 44-year existence.
Philadelphia scored their runs in the second when rookie Darin Ruf hit his first major league triple off the wall in left-center, easily scoring Carlos Ruiz and Domonic Brown.
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (11-12) frustrated the Nationals all night, giving up four hits while striking out four and walking just one over seven innings.
Relievers Justin De Fratus, Jeremy Horst and Phillippe Aumont came in for the final two innings to close the door on the Nationals.
Atlanta (93-67), having already clinched a playoff spot, are three games behind Washington with two games left in the regular season.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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