Nationals are NL East champions (Nats lose 2-0, but who cares?)

Ladies and gentlemen, the Washington Nationals are your 2012 National League East champions.

It sure didn’t come easily. The Nats had lost nine of their last 16 games coming into tonight and are currently trailing the Phillies 2-0 in the ninth inning here in Washington.

The division clincher came 250 miles away from D.C., as the Braves lost to the Pirates 2-1, giving the NL East to the Nationals.

The Nats should ship a fruit basket - or a few thousand of them - to their new friends in Pittsburgh.

The Nats learned of the news as they came off the field in the top of the ninth. The score was put on the JumboTron, the crowd went nuts and the celebration was on in the Nats dugout.

It’s been a trying season at times, with injuries to a number of key players making things a little bumpy along the way. But the Nationals have persevered and now have a division title to show for it.

Next stop: The Divisional Round of the playoffs

Update: The Nats lost to the Phillies 2-0, but it doesn’t matter. They’re the division champions.

Bright red fireworks went off at Nats Park after the game ended, and players donned their playoff hats and T-shirts in front of the dugout.

The celebration is on.

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