The Atlanta Braves' hopes of winning the National League East ended Monday night with a 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates that clinched the division title for the Washington Nationals.
The Braves, who needed to sweep the Pirates and have first-place Washington drop three games to Philadelphia to tie for the division lead, will instead be the top wild card team when the postseason begins Thursday.
Starling Marte hit his sixth home run of the season and scored twice to lead the Pirates.
Atlanta managed just two hits against Pittsburgh's Jeff Locke (1-3), who picked up his first major league win. Jared Hughes worked the ninth for his second save in place of regular closer Joel Hanrahan.
Paul Maholm (13-11) gave up two runs in seven innings while losing to his former team for the first time, striking out eight and walking three.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)