Associated Press photo
Michael Morse rounds the bases after hitting his first of two homers.
But as the final week of the regular season arrives, the Nationals have yet to celebrate anything, aside from the fact they're guaranteed to play at least one playoff game in October.
Even with Thursday night's 7-3 thumping of the Phillies, the Nationals only inched closer to the NL East title. Their magic number now at 3, they can't clinch the division until Saturday night in St. Louis at the earliest.
For that, they can thank the scorching-hot Braves, who simply won't concede the East without putting up a fight right down to the wire. Winners in 10 of their last 12, they remain four games back with six to play, still needing a miracle to overtake Washington but refusing to help their rivals finish the job.
"Take nothing for granted," manager Davey Johnson said. "I know if we win three more, we're in, we win the pennant. That's all I want everybody in that room to figure on."