In battle of best records, Nationals best Orioles by a game

If you're a local baseball fan and inspired by a false sense of rivalry, this mostly meaningless last week of the regular season could be boiled down to a battle of the Interstate 95 beltways.

Inside the Baltimore Beltway were the Orioles, eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday after winning 93 games in 2012 and earning their first trip to the American League postseason since 1997.

Further south inside the Capital Beltway were the Washington Nationals, officially eliminated from the National League postseason last Monday, just one season after they won 98 games and the NL East title to earn that franchise's first playoff berth since defecting from Montreal in 2005.

With little to play for but pride by mid-week -- and, of course, for the best record in the Baltimore-Washington area -- the two clubs responded in different ways.

After a second-half surge got the Nationals back into the NL wild card picture this month, the team limped to a 2-3 record after being mathematically eliminated.

Meanwhile, the Orioles' bats -- in a weeks-long slump that torpedoed the club's October baseball plans -- came to life over the season's final fives games as the birds went 4-1.

The sudden offensive surge came far too late to help the club's playoff chances, and also too late to overtake Washington, despite an uplifting 7-6 win over the Boston Red Sox in the Orioles' season finale on Sunday.

Even after losing their season finale -- manager Davey Johnson's final game before retirement -- the Nationals finished 2013 86-76. The Orioles finished 85-77 -- one game back in the local bragging rights division.

Round One goes to Washington. The Ravens (2-2) and Redskins (1-3) will decide Round Two.

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