On the verge of elimination (Nats lose, won't be postseason-bound)

ST. LOUIS - Not only are the Nationals losing here in the late innings in St. Louis, but the Pirates and Reds just won in dramatic fashion.

With their win, the Pirates will clinch a playoff spot if the Nats lose here tonight.

Same deal with the Reds.

Put in other words, the Nats are three outs away from elimination.

The Nats go into the top of the ninth inning trailing the Cardinals 4-3. A Ryan Zimmerman RBI groundout in the eighth cut the Cardinals' lead in half, but the Nats will need a ninth-inning comeback to avoid being knocked out of the postseason picture for good.

Coming into today, the Reds and Pirates both had magic numbers of two. Any combination of wins by those teams and losses by the Nats would finalize the NL playoff picture.

Given the Nats' long odds, we knew they were likely going to get mathematically eliminated at some point. We didn't maybe expect it all to come together in one night.

The Nats will send Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche to the plate in the ninth.

Update: There it is. The Nats lost to the Cardinals 4-3, officially eliminating them from the postseason picture.

The slim hopes that the Nationals had held onto for weeks are now gone. Despite all the optimism leading into this season and all the talent this team felt it possessed, the Nats will be on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

Roark gets the loss tonight, the first defeat of his big league career.

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