NLDS: Defending World Series champions St Louis Cardinals produced late recovery to stun Washington Nationals in game five decider
Last Updated: October 15, 2012 11:10am
St Louis Cardinals celebrate on the mound at Nationals Parks
St Louis Cardinals produced a trademark comeback to beat Washington Nationals in the deciding game of their National League Divisional Series.
The Cardinals overturned a six-run deficit, including scoring four in the ninth inning, to claim a 9-7 success on the night and a 3-2 series victory.
Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma each had two-out, two-run singles in the ninth as the Cardinals silenced the record Nationals Park crowd of 45,966.
Washington, in the play-offs for the second time in the franchise's 44-year history after compiling the best regular-season record in baseball, cruised to a 6-0 lead after three innings but could not close the door on the Cardinals. On five separate pitches, the Cardinals were down to their last strike but managed to come through.
Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse each had home runs and two RBI by the third inning for the Nationals.
The Cardinals - who were down to their last strike in the World Series last year against the Texas Rangers but managed to come back and win the title - pulled to within 6-5 on a Descalso homer to right in the eighth inning.
An RBI single by Kurt Suzuki in the bottom half of the inning gave the Nationals what seemed like a comfortable 7-5 lead for closer Drew Storen.
But Storen gave up three hits and two walks in the ninth and when Kozma lined a two-run single to right to score Descalso and David Freese and give St. Louis a 9-7 advantage, the once-raucous crowd turned silent.
Jason Motte shut down the Nationals in order in the ninth and when Zimmerman popped out to Descalso at second to end the game, the Cardinals met at the mound to get the celebrations under way.
St. Louis will travel to the San Francisco Giants for the first game of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series on Sunday.