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Phillies Clinch Fourth Straight NL East Title; Yankees Fail to Gain Ground

The Philadelphia Phillies clinched their fourth straight National League Eastern Division title as Roy Halladay pitched a two-hitter in an 8-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.

The Phillies improved to 20-5 this month and 94-63 overall, moving past the Tampa Bay Rays for the best record in Major League Baseball.

The Rays and New York Yankees both missed chances to secure playoff berths with losses yesterday.

Tampa Bay lost 4-0 to the Baltimore Orioles, yet maintained a half-game lead atop the American League East when the Yankees lost to the Toronto Blue Jays 7-5. Tampa Bay has 93-63 record while the Yankees are 93-64.

Halladay, who never reached the postseason in his first 12 seasons in Toronto, opened the first bottle of champagne during the Phillies’ postgame celebration last night. The 2003 Cy Young Award winner, Halladay allowed two singles in becoming the first major-league pitcher with 21 wins this season.

“We’re just starting,” Halladay, who signed a three-year, $60 million contract extension after joining the Phillies, said according to MLB.com. “I’m looking forward to moving forward. It should be a lot of fun.”

Jayson Werth hit a home run and drove in four runs for Philadelphia, which is the third NL team to make at least four straight postseason appearances. The Atlanta Braves made 14 in a row from 1991 to 2005, while the New York Giants went to the playoffs four consecutive times from 1921-24.

Wild Card Race

Although Atlanta’s chance of winning the NL East ended with the Phillies’ win, the Braves moved a half-game ahead of the San Diego Padres in the race for the NL wild card.

The wild card berth goes to the division runner-up with the best record.

The Braves (88-69) beat the Florida Marlins 2-1 in 11 innings and the Padres (87-69) lost to the Chicago Cubs 1-0.

The Rays were denied a chance to celebrate at home as Brian Matusz pitched seven scoreless innings to help the Orioles halt a four-game losing streak.

The Yankees weren’t able to recover in Toronto after A.J. Burnett gave up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.

The Boston Red Sox kept their slim playoff chances alive with a 6-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.

The Red Sox (87-69) trail the Yankees by 5 1/2 games in the race for the AL wild card playoff spot.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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