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Cardinals Rally to Win NLDS, Giants Next

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Posted: Friday, October 12, 2012 11:45 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — In the end, it made sense that Yadier Molina and David Freese would work those key walks, and that Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma would come through with those tying and go-ahead, two-run hits.

The names might change. Not the outcomes. This is what the St. Louis Cardinals do.

Pushed to the brink, they never blink.

Trailing by three runs before they recorded an out Friday night, then six before the third inning was over, and still behind when down to their last strike over and over again with two outs in the ninth inning, the defending World Series champions fashioned the sort of comeback they’ve made their specialty.

Waiting until after midnight to finally take the lead, the never-give-up Cardinals erased the biggest deficit ever overcome in a winner-take-all postseason contest and beat the Washington Nationals 9-7 in Game 5 of the NL division series.

“How did that happen?!” Carlos Beltran asked, speaking to no one in particular in the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park.

Not long before that, a blue bin stuffed with ice and beer cans had been hurriedly wheeled from the Nationals’ side of the stadium to the Cardinals’ room. Yes, the Cardinals turn losses into wins — and then they steal the other guys’ bubbly, too.

“We never quit,” Molina said. “That’s our rule.”

According to STATS LLC, no other club in this sort of ultimate pressure situation had come back from more than four runs down. But being behind 3-0, 6-0, 7-5 — none of that fazes these Cardinals. Over the past two years, they have won six postseason games in a row in which a defeat would have ended their season.

“We knew we had a lot of game left after they scored six. Nobody went up there trying to hit a six-run homer,” said No. 7 hitter Descalso, whose solo shot in the eighth made it 6-5. “We needed to scratch and claw and get ourselves back in the game.”

That run of recent must-have victories for St. Louis includes the wild-card playoff game at Atlanta last weekend, and Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series against Texas. Last year, too, St. Louis was a strike away from being done.

“It’s just the kind of people they are. They believe in themselves. They believe in each other,” first-year manager Mike Matheny said. “It’s been this style of team all season long. They just don’t quit, and I think that just says a lot about their character.”

His wild-card Cardinals, who only secured a playoff spot on the next-to-last day of the regular season, will open the NL championship series against the Giants in San Francisco on Sunday. Lance Lynn, used in relief against Washington, will go back to the rotation and start Game 1.

Madison Bumgarner will pitch Sunday for the Giants, who dropped the first two games of their NLDS against Cincinnati before taking Game 5 on Thursday.

The Nationals led the majors with 98 regular-season wins, and made it an even 100 in the NLDS, but their run ended without All-Star ace Stephen Strasburg. The team said he’d thrown enough in his first full season after Tommy John surgery and didn’t put him on the playoff roster.

“I stand by my decision, and we’ll take the criticism as it comes,” general manager Mike Rizzo said, “but we have to do what’s best for the Washington Nationals, and we think we did.”

Even without Strasburg, Washington had its chances to knock off the Cardinals. Oh, were there chances. For a total of five pitches, closer Drew Storen was one strike away from ending the game. But on all five, the batters — first Molina, then 2011 NLCS and World Series MVP Freese — took a pitch that was called a ball.

Both walked, setting the stage for Descalso and Kozma.

“We had it right there, and the most disappointing thing I’ll say is that I just let these guys down,” Storen said in a quiet Nationals clubhouse, where plastic sheets meant to protect belongings from spraying champagne were rolled up above players’ lockers, unneeded. “There’s a bad taste in my mouth and that’s going to stay there for a couple of months. It’s probably never going to leave.”

That’s thanks to the resilience of the Cardinals, who came through the way they tend to, if only barely: Descalso, who hit .227 in the regular season, came up with a game-saving single that ticked off the glove of diving shortstop Ian Desmond to make it 7-all.

Then it was No. 8 hitter Kozma’s turn. He hit .236 in nearly 2,500 at-bats over six seasons in the minors — the unheralded guy was mistakenly called “Cosmos” by Nationals manager Davey Johnson before Game 4 — and was in the Cardinals’ lineup only because of an injury to Rafael Furcal. But he sent another pitch from Storen into right field.

“I was looking for a good fastball to hit. He gave it to me,” Kozma said. “You can’t write this stuff up. It just happens.”

Cardinals closer Jason Motte, who got the win with two innings of one-run relief, said: “Maybe we’re just stubborn. These guys, they don’t give away at-bats, that’s the thing.”

When Motte got Ryan Zimmerman to pop out, the Cardinals streamed from the visiting dugout for hugs and high-fives. This, though, was nothing new to them.

Down to their last strike in the Fall Classic a year ago, trailing by the exact same 7-5 score in the ninth inning, the Cardinals rallied in Game 6 and then took the championship in what turned out to be the final year with the club for slugging first baseman Albert Pujols and then-manager Tony La Russa. Now Matheny has them four wins away from another World Series appearance.

And to think: Washington, which won the NL East, got off to as good a start as possible Friday.

Seven pitches, three runs. Just like that, Jayson Werth’s double, Bryce Harper’s triple and Zimmerman’s homer got the hosts jump-started. A big third inning highlighted by the 19-year-old Harper’s homer made it 6-0.

The Cardinals were not about to go gently into the night. They chipped away. One run off 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez in the fourth, a pair in the fifth, another in the seventh off Edwin Jackson.

Suddenly, it was 6-4. Then came Descalso’s homer off Tyler Clippard in the eighth. After Kurt Suzuki drove in a run for Washington to get the lead back up to 7-5, the four-run ninth against Storen — who had elbow surgery in April, returned to the team in July and reclaimed his closer role with a near-perfect September — completed the reversal.

“We’ve had a great year overcoming a lot of hardship,” Johnson said, “and to not go after them at the end was not fun to watch.”

In Game 6 of last year’s World Series, the Cardinals twice were one strike from losing, before Freese’s two-run triple in the ninth, then Lance Berkman’s tying RBI single in the 10th. Freese’s homer won it in the 11th, the Rangers never got to pop their champagne corks, and St. Louis went on to a 6-2 victory in Game 7.

Here they were, doing it again. The alcoholic beverages waiting for the Nationals got moved down the hallway to the Cardinals’ side.

All while a Nationals Park-record crowd of 45,966 witnessed the first postseason series in the nation’s capital in 79 years. So seemingly close to a significant triumph, the Nationals — and their fans — left disappointed. Not long after the final out, a few dozen Cardinals fans gathered in the rows right behind the visiting dugout to chant, “Let’s go, Cards! Let’s go, Cards!”

Hours earlier, the red-dressed D.C. spectators began the night with chants of “Let’s go, Nats!” right after the national anthem, then filled the raw October air with roars as run after run scored for the home team. At the outset, highlights of leadoff hitter Werth’s epic, 13-pitch at-bat from about 25½ hours before were shown on the video board as he began the bottom of the first. On Thursday night, he ended Game 4 with a homer in the bottom of the ninth that gave Washington a 2-1 victory.

Picking up right where he left off, Werth doubled to the left-field corner off Adam Wainwright, and Harper followed with an RBI triple off the wall in left-center. Harper won’t turn 20 until Tuesday; no other teen had a postseason three-bagger, according to STATS. Zimmerman completed the crescendo with his two-run homer.

In 11 previous postseason appearances — mainly as a reliever — Wainwright never had allowed more than one run, much less three in a single inning. Got worse in the third, and his evening was over after 2 1-3 innings.

His season, however, will continue. He plays for the can’t-quit Cardinals, after all.

“It was the lowest I ever felt in my career and then all of a sudden it’s one of the highest moments in my career,” Wainwright said. “That’s the great thing about playing on an amazing team. You have someone go out and have a terrible performance like I did, and the rest of the team went out there and fought hard and didn’t give up.”

NOTES: St. Louis is in the NLCS for the seventh time since the start of the 2000 season. ... The 9-7 final score might be familiar to longtime Washington baseball historians. In the last all-or-nothing game for a Washington baseball team, the Senators lost Game 7 of the 1925 World Series at Pittsburgh by the exact same score when Walter Johnson couldn’t hold a 6-3 lead.

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Area Scoreboard

Washington Post 218 Senior Legion Tournament

Pools

Pool A — St. Charles 3-1, Manchester 3-1, Jefferson City 2-2, Union 1-3, Columbia 1-3

Pool B — Ballwin 4-0, Thoman Boothe 3-1, SEMO 2-2, Washington 1-3, New Haven 0-4

Pool Games

At Ronsick Field Unless Noted

Wednesday, June 15

St. Charles 9, Manchester 8

Thoman Boothe 5, Washington 4

St. Charles 3, Union 2

SEMO 16, New Haven 0

Thursday, June 16

Washington 11, New Haven 1

St. Charles 3, Jefferson City 2

Ballwin 9, Thoman Boothe 1

Union 7, Columbia 2

Friday, June 17

Jefferson City 10, Union 0

Ballwin 12, New Haven 2

Manchester 8, Columbia 6

SEMO 6, Washington 1

Saturday, June 18

At Ronsick Field

Thoman Boothe 4, New Haven 0

Thoman Boothe 4, SEMO 3

Manchester 8, Columbia 6

Ballwin 3, Washington 2

At Borgia

Manchester 7, Union 3

Manchester 2, Jefferson City 1

Jefferson City 3, Columbia 1

Columbia 4, St. Charles 1

Sunday, June 19

Semifinal 1 — St. Charles 7, Thoman Boothe 3

Semifinal 2 — Manchester 3, Ballwin 1

Championship — Manchester 9, St. Charles 1

Washington Post 218 Seniors

5-31    *Washington 15, St. Clair 2

6-1    Washington 7, Eureka 3

6-2    *Washington 13, West 0

6-4    #Washington 13, Chillicothe 1

6-4    #Washington 10, Sedalia 7

6-5    #Washington 11, Fike 3

6-5    #Washington 3, Jefferson City 2

6-7    *Washington 15, Pacific 0

6-8    *Washington 16, Sullivan 2

6-9    *Washington 15, St. Charles 2

6-10    Washington 10, Festus 0

6-11    *Washington 24, St. Clair 0

6-12    *Washington 10, O’Fallon 3

6-15    $Thoman Boothe 5, Washington 4

6-16    $Washington 11, New Haven 1

6-17    $SEMO 6, Washington 1

6-18    $Ballwin 3, Washington 2

6-22    *New Haven    PPD

6-24    Manchester    7 p.m.

6-25    *Elsberry    6 p.m.

6-26    at De Soto    6 p.m.

6-28    *at Wentzville    8 p.m.

6-29    *Warrenton    8:30 p.m.

6-30    *at New Haven    7 p.m.

7-1    *St. Peters    7 p.m.

7-2    *at Union    noon

7-3    *Owensville    3:30 p.m.

7-6    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-7    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-8    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-9    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-10    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-14    District Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

# Sedalia Tournament

$ Washington Tournament

Washington Post 218 Juniors

5-26    Washington 9, Thoman Boothe 1

5-27    #Washington 11, Ballwin 1

5-28    #Washington 7, Highland, Ill., 1

5-29    #Washington 7, Union 2

5-29    #Jefferson City 1, Washington 0

6-3    *Washington 14, St. Clair 1

6-4    *Washington 7, O'Fallon 1

6-5    *Washington 8, Hannibal 5

6-5    Washington 6, Alton, Ill. 3

6-7    *Washington 13, Pacific 3

6-9    *Washington 4, St. Charles 1

6-12    *Washington 7, Elsberry 4

6-18   Belleville, Ill., 4, Washington 3

6-18   Washington 13, Belleville, Ill., 1

6-21   *Washington 10, Warrenton 3

6-22    Washington 8, Festus 2

6-24    *at New Haven    6 p.m.

6-25    *Wentzville    3:30 p.m.

6-26    *Union    1 p.m.

6-27    *at Sullivan    6 p.m.

6-28    Manchester (DH)    6 p.m.

6-29    at St. Clair    8 p.m.

7-2    at Festus (DH)    noon

7-5    District Tournament    TBA

* Ninth District Games

# Post 218 Memorial Weekend Tournament

Washington Post 218 Freshmen

5-19    #Washington 3, Ballwin 0

5-20    #Washington 7, Manchester 5

5-21    #Washington 8, New Haven 3

5-22    #Washington 13, Ballwin 2

5-25    *Sullivan 3, Washington 2

5-25    *Washington 14, Sullivan 2

5-26    *Washington 13, Union 0

5-31    *Washington 14, St. Clair 0

6-2    *Washington 10, Wentzville 4

6-4    *Washington 3, Hannibal 0

6-4    *St. Clair 5, Washington 2

6-7    *Washington 5, St. Charles 0

6-8    *Washington 10, St. Peters 0

6-12    *Washington 9, St. Charles 5

6-13    *Washington 10, St. Peters 0

6-14    *Washington 11, New Haven 1

6-14    *Washington 11, Union 1

6-16    *Washington 8, Rosebud 4

6-18    *Washington 11, Pacific 0

6-18    *Washington 14, Pacific 0

6-21    *Washington 4, Rosebud 2

6-24    *at New Haven    8 p.m.

6-25    *Elsberry    1 p.m.

6-29    *Warrenton    6 p.m.

7-1    District Tournament    TBA

* Ninth District Games

# Washington Tournament Games

Union Post 297 Seniors

5-31    *Union 4, Warrenton 0

6-1    *St. Clair 6, Union 3

6-2    *Pacific 6, Union 5

6-4    *Elsberry 5, Union 2

6-6    *New Haven 11, Union 7

6-8    *Union 16, West 0

6-15    ^St. Charles 3, Union 2

6-16    ^Union 7, Columbia 2

6-17    ^Jefferson City 10, Union 0

6-18    ^Manchester 7, Union 3

6-21    *Union 16, St. Peters 0

6-22    *O'Fallon 3, Union 2

6-25    *at St. Charles    noon

6-27    *at St. Clair    6 p.m.

6-29    *Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

7-1    *at Warrenton    5:30 p.m.

7-2    *Washington    noon

7-6-10    at Blue Springs Wood Bat Tny    TBA

7-12    Ninth Distirct Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

^Washington Tournament

Union Post 297 Juniors

5-25    PPD at Farmington

5-26    #Union 2, Eureka 1

5-29    #Jefferson City 15, Union 5

5-30    #Washington 7, Union 2

6-2    *Union 5, Warrenton 4

6-4    *Elsberry 10, Union 7

6-4    *Elsberry 6, Union 2

6-5    *Union 9, St. Clair 8

6-7    Union 13, Manchester 4

6-11    *Union 9, St. Charles 8

6-11    *Union 4, St. Charles 3

6-12    *Sullivan 13, Union 0

6-12    *Union 2, Hannibal 1

6-15    *Union 7, St. Clair 1

6-16    *Union 11, New Haven 4

6-18    &Illinois Stix 5, Union 1

6-18    &Union 7, ECI M80s 5

6-19    &Macon Co Jokers 12, Union 1

6-19    &Union 9, Gamers 0

6-22    *O'Fallon 8, Union 1

6-24    *Wentzville    5:30 p.m.

6-25    Farmington (DH)    1 p.m.

6-26    *at Washington    1 p.m.

6-28    *Warrenton    6 p.m.

6-30    *at Sullivan    6 p.m.

7-2    *Pacific    10 a.m.

7-5    Ninth District Tny    TBA

7-23    All-Star Game, Elsberry    4 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

Union Post 297 Freshmen

5-19 #New Haven 15, Union 4

5-20 #Eureka 8, Union 5

5-22 #Manchester 7, Union 3

5-24   Eureka 9, Union 2

5-26    *Washington 13, Union 0

5-31    *Wentzville 6, Union 2

6-2    *St. Charles 21, Union 10

6-4    *Hannibal 12, Union 6

6-5    *St. Clair 10, Union 0

6-9    *Sullivan 11, Union 1

6-11    *Warrenton 3, Union 2

6-11    *Warrenton 14, Union 5

6-12    *St. Peters 8, Union 7

6-12    *St. Peters 12, Union 2

6-14    *Washington 11, Union 1

6-16    *New Haven 1, Union 0

6-23    *Union 22, Pacific 1

6-26    *Rosebud (DH)    noon, 5 p.m.

6-30    *St. Clair    5:30 p.m.

7-5    Ninth District Tny    TBA

7-23    All-Star Game, Elsberry    1 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

Pacific Post 402 Seniors

6-2    *Pacific 6, Union 5

6-3    *at Elsberry    8 p.m.

6-7    *Washington 15, Pacific 0

6-14    *Pacific 2, Sullivan 1

6-14    *Pacific 10, Sullivan 2

6-15    *O'Fallon 6, Pacific 5

6-18    *Pacific 6, West 4

6-22    *Pacific 4, St. Clair 1

6-25    *at St. Clair, 4 p.m.

6-26    *at St. Peters    5 p.m.

6-30    *at Warrenton    5:30 p.m.

7-1    *at St. Charles TBA

*Ninth District Games

Pacific Post 402 Juniors

6-1    *New Haven 5, Pacific 1

6-3    *O'Fallon 5, Pacific 3

6-4    *Warrenton 16, Pacific 9

6-7    *Washington 13, Pacific 3

6-9    *Sullivan 7, Pacific 4

6-11    *Hannibal 13, Pacific 3

6-11    *Elsberry 6, Pacific 0

6-13    *St. Clair    PPD

6-16    *Sullivan 4, Pacific 3

6-23    *St. Charles 9, Pacific 6

6-27    *Wentzville    8 p.m.

6-30    *at St. Clair    8 p.m.

7-2    *at Union    10 a.m.

7-5    Ninth District Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

Pacific Post 402 Freshmen

6-2    *New Haven 14, Pacific 0

6-6    *Wentzville 17, Pacific 16

6-7    *Sullivan 15, Pacific 1

6-13    *Rosebud 22, Pacific 0

6-15    *Elsberry 17, Pacific 2

6-16    *Warrenton def. Pacific (forfeit)

6-18    *Washington 11, Pacific 0

6-18    *Washington 14, Pacific 0

6-21    *St. Charles 13, Pacific 1

6-23    *Union 22, Pacific 1

6-24    *at Hannibal    8 p.m.

6-26    *at St. Peters (DH)    12 p.m.

6-27    *St. Clair    6 p.m.

6-29    *at St. Clair    6 p.m.

7-1    Rosebud    7 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

St. Clair Post 347 Seniors

5-25    *St. Clair 10, West 6

5-31    *Washington 14, St. Clair 2

6-1    *St. Clair 6, Union 3

6-3    *O'Fallon 11, St. Clair 7

6-7    *St. Clair 15, Warrenton 8

6-10    *St. Clair 13, New Haven 11

6-11    *Washington 24, St. Clair 0

6-15    *St. Clair 9, Sullivan 3

6-16    *St. Clair 13, St. Peters 4

6-19    Warrenton 18, St. Clair 6

6-20    Sullivan 16, St. Clair 6

6-22    *Pacific 4, St. Clair 1

6-25    *Pacific    4 p.m.

6-26    *Elsberry    2 p.m.

6-27    *Union    6 p.m.

6-28    *at St. Charles    6 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

St. Clair Post 347 Juniors

6-1    *at Sullivan    7:30 p.m.

6-3    *Washington 14, St. Clair 1

6-5    *Union 9, St. Clair 8

6-7    *Warrenton 10, St. Clair 0

6-8    *New Haven 10, St. Clair 0

6-10    *O’Fallon    6 p.m.

6-12    *St. Clair 8, Wentzville 5

6-13    *at Pacific    PPD

6-15    *Union 7, St. Clair 1

6-16    *Wentzville 10, St. Clair 0

6-18    *Hannibal def. St. Clair twice

6-19    *Warrenton 6, St. Clair 5

6-23    *Sullivan    6 p.m.

6-26    *Elsberry    12 p.m.

6-28    *at St. Charles 8 p.m.

6-29    *Washington    8 p.m.

6-30    Pacific    8 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

St. Clair Post 347 Freshmen

5-23    *Rosebud 6, St. Clair 0

5-24    *St. Charles 10, St. Clair 0

5-31    *Washington 14, St. Clair 0

6-1    *Sullivan 5, St. Clair 1

6-4    *St. Clair 5, Washington 2

6-5    *St. Clair 10, Union 0

6-8    *St. Clair 6, New Haven 4

6-11    *St. Charles 14, St. Clair 2

6-12    *Wentzville 11, St. Clair 2

6-14    *Sullivan 15, St. Clair 13

6-15    *St. Clair 6, Rosebud 2

6-16    *St. Clair 9, St. Peters 7

6-18    *Elsberry 8, St. Clair 1

6-18     Elsberry 10, St. Clair 4

6-19    *Warrenton 5, St. Clair 0

6-23    *St. Clair 9, Wentzville 7

6-27    *at Pacific    6 p.m.

6-29    *Pacific    6 p.m.

6-30    *at Union    5:30 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

New Haven Post 366 Seniors

5-24    *New Haven 5, O'Fallon 3

5-28    *PPD at West

6-6    *New Haven 11, Union 7

6-10    *St. Clair 13, New Haven 11

6-11    *New Haven 10, West 1

6-15    #SEMO 16, New Haven 0

6-16    #Washington 11, New Haven 0

6-17    #Ballwin 12, New Haven 2

6-17    *New Haven 13, Sullivan 3

6-18    #Thoman Boothe 4, New Haven 0

6-19    *New Haven 9, St. Peters 1

6-21    *at Sullivan    8 p.m.

6-22    *at Washington    8:30 p.m.

6-25    *St. Peters    5 p.m.

6-26    *St. Charles    noon

6-27    *at Warrenton    5:30 p.m.

6-28    *Pacific    7 p.m.

6-29    *at Elsberry    8 p.m.

6-30    *Washington    7 p.m.

7-14    Ninth District Tny    TBA

# Washington Tournament

* Ninth District Games    

New Haven Post 366 Juniors

6-1    *New Haven 5, Pacific 1

6-4   New Haven 5, MODO 1

6-4   New Haven 9, Mattoon, Ill. #2 1

6-4   New Haven 5, Charlestown Red 0

6-7    *Wentzville 4, New Haven 2

6-8    *New Haven 10, St. Clair 0

6-12    *Elsberry 4, New Haven 3

6-15    *New Haven 7, Warrenton 2

6-16    *Union 11, New Haven 4

6-18    *St. Charles 8, New Haven 7

6-18    *St. Charles 6, New Haven 5

6-21    *New Haven 4, Sullivan 3

6-22    *Washington    PPD

6-26    *Hannibal (DH)    3 p.m.

6-29    *Sullivan (DH)    6 p.m.

7-5-11    Ninth District Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

Washington Swim Team

6-13    Lake Chesterfield 232, Washington 115

6-20    at Cool Dell    5:30 p.m.

6-27    Cedarmill    5:30 p.m.

7-11    at Lake Chesterfield    5:30 p.m.

7-16    Division Meet at Cedarmill    TBA

Pacific Swim Team

6-6    Pacific 194, Union 138

6-14    Pacific 302, Fox Creek 198

6-20    Pacific 302, Indian Hills 173

6-27    JCC    6 p.m.

7-5    at Oaks Landing    6 p.m.

7-9    Phelps Division Meet    7 a.m.

Union Swim Team

6-6    Pacific 194, Union 138

6-13    at Indian Hills, PPD

6-20    JCC 232, Union 229

6-27    Oaks Landing    6 p.m.    

7-5    at Fox Creek    6 p.m.

7-9    Division Meet at Pacific    7 a.m.

Pacific Dive Team

6-18    MAC 61, Pacific 20

6-25    at Lindgate    9 a.m.

6-30    Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-17    at Cool Dell    noon

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