WASHINGTON (AP) A season that started with so many soaring expectations for the Washington Nationals crashed with a dreary thud Saturday, when they were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention despite a 2-1 win over the Phillies in 12 innings on Bryce Harper's RBI double.
The Nationals' victory came less than an hour after the New York Mets also won and clinched the NL East title.
Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 for Washington, NL MVP front-runner Harper had three hits and drew his franchise-record-tying 123rd walk - and, like whatever else went right in 2015 for a team many considered a World Series favorite, none of it mattered.
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While the Phillies-Nationals game was in the top of the 11th, the Mets finished beating the Cincinnati Reds 10-2. Washington (79-75) can't possibly pass New York (88-67) in the standings, and is out of the wild-card race.
The Phillies (58-97) are last in the division, owners of the worst record in the majors.
With rain falling and the stands nearly empty at the end, Harper delivered a double to right off Colton Murray (0-1) to bring Anthony Rendon home from second.
Matt Thornton (2-1) got two outs for the win.
Strasburg turned in his fourth game in a row with at least 10 Ks and one walk. He allowed one run and three hits in eight innings and was perfect until the fifth, when Darin Ruf lined a single to left. Ruf singled to left again in the eighth, and scored on Brian Bogusevic's double, making it 1-all.
Harper ended a four-game hitless skid - twice as long as any previous drought all season - by singling in the fourth. That was the first of three consecutive singles that loaded the bases with no outs, but the Nationals failed to score there.
Washington went ahead 1-0 in the sixth. Harper walked, took second and third on a pair of wild pitches by reliever Adam Loewen and scored on Ian Desmond's groundout.
Harper also doubled twice.
As fantastic as Harper has been, fulfilling the promise that made him a no-doubt-about-it No. 1 overall draft pick in 2010, his numbers were not enough to make up for all sorts of other problems.
The bullpen blew lead after lead down the stretch. Thanks to injuries, the intended everyday lineup was together for a grand total of two games. The starting rotation never lived up to its billing, despite occasional brilliance - including a no-hitter - from Max Scherzer and Strasburg.
This was supposed to be a club that would make up for first-round playoff exits in 2012 and 2014. Instead, Washington sputtered in the second half and let the Mets pull away.
Phillies RHP Aaron Nola was lifted for a pinch hitter after throwing only 67 pitches in five scoreless innings, with six hits, five strikeouts and no walks.
Nationals: CF Michael A. Taylor was out of the starting lineup with a bothersome knee and hamstring - ''a little sore, in general,'' manager Matt Williams said. ... Before the game, reinstated OF Reed Johnson from the 60-day DL and moved CF Denard Span from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. Johnson missed 131 games; he had surgery to repair a tendon in his left foot, then broke a rib while on a minor league rehab assignment. ... Span had left hip surgery on Sept. 1.
In Sunday's series finale, LHP Gio Gonzalez (11-8, 3.49 ERA) - coming off a season-high 12 strikeouts in his previous start - will take the mound for Washington against Phillies RHP Aaron Harang (6-15, 4.93).
Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich