Nationals clinch postseason slot, beat Dodgers

Associated Press Modified: September 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm •  Published: September 20, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — As Davey Johnson walked into the interview room to talk about Washington's return to postseason baseball for the first time since 1933, fans gathered in an adjoining restaurant began to applaud.

"What's the big deal?" Johnson joked.

The Nationals used Ross Detwiler's six strong innings and Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double to lock up a playoff spot Thursday night with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"Nats Clinch" flashed on the scoreboard as Washington ensured at least an NL wild-card spot, delighting the crowd of 30,359.

"That was fun, but it's not what I had my eye on," Johnson said. "I don't want this."

The fans stood and cheered in the ninth inning, then got even louder when Drew Storen struck out Hanley Ramirez to end it. Johnson saluted the crowd as he left the field and the team wore caps and T-shirts acknowledging the playoff berth.

"I noticed like in the fifth or sixth, some signs, some different things that kind of keyed me into that this wasn't going to be an ordinary evening," Jayson Werth said.

"That was not an ordinary win."

Nineteen-year-old center fielder Bryce Harper claimed ignorance of the team's situation.

"Everyone's going crazy. I looked at the fireworks and I go: 'I guess we just did something.' Then somebody handed me the playoff shirt and playoff hat and I said, 'Well, I guess we're going to the playoffs,'" Harper said.

Washington's magic number to win the NL East was reduced to eight. The Nationals lead idle Atlanta by 5½ games.

"We've been through a lot and a lot of us in here have been through a lot of not-good times and these are the beginning of hope for a lot of good times," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman is the only Nationals player to appear in each of the team's eight seasons.

"It's a first step, and it's a long ways to go," he said.

The Nationals became the second team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot this year. Cincinnati sealed its slot earlier in the day.

They celebrated with a private champagne toast. No spraying and no protective plastic over their lockers.

"I think there was some talk about not celebrating at all, but I kind of talked them out of that," Werth said.

"The next one would not be as subdued, I would imagine," Zimmerman said.

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