Cardinals stun Nationals with 9th-inning rally
WASHINGTON — No matter how bad today might look to the St. Louis Cardinals, they always find a way to make it to tomorrow. Their greatest strength is their knack for hanging in and hanging on once they reach the brink, which is by far their favorite spot.
Twice down to their final strike Friday against Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen, the defending World Series champions scored four times in the top of the ninth and won Game 5 of the Division Series, 9-7. And that was after having spotted the inspired young opponent an early 6-0 lead. It was their seventh consecutive win in a potential elimination game.
Again, the only thing eliminated was any doubt about their immense clutch ability. Daniel Descalso, the unheralded second baseman whom Nationals' manager Davey Johnson said has resembled Rod Carew this week, tied it with a two-out single off the glove of shortstop Ian Desmond. Then Pete Kozma, the Cardinals' rookie shortstop pressed into action because of a late season injury to Rafael Furcal, hit a two-run single to right. Just like that, a two-run deficit turned into a resounding win.
Instead of going home, the Cardinals will open the National League Championship Series against the Giants in San Francisco on Sunday. They are obviously comfortable on the edge and in the postseason. A wild-card team for the second consecutive year, they seem better in the playoffs than the regular season.
“We don't really classify ourselves as one thing or another,” manager Mike Matheny said. “What I would like to say about our team is that we've shown a lot of heart this year. I'd say, also, they don't quit, and it's hard to beat a team that doesn't quit.”
The St. Louis pitching staff held the Nationals scoreless after Cardinals No. 1 starter Adam Wainwright allowed six runs, including three homers, in the first three innings. And the hitters just kept chipping away.
Against Nationals 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez, who lost track of the strike zone as he had in Game 1, they scored twice in the fifth to make it 6-3. One run came home on a wild pitch, another on one of the three walks allowed in the inning by Gonzalez.
That was a bit of an answer to the fast start fueled by 19-year-old Nationals star Bryce Harper, who had a triple in the first and a homer in the third, and mainstay Ryan Zimmerman, who had a home run in the first and a double in the third.
Matt Holliday's groundout in the seventh against Edwin Jackson brought home a run that was set up by a double from Carlos Beltran. Descalso led off the eighth with a home run against Tyler Clippard. Beltran got the winning rally going with a leadoff double in the ninth.
“We learned last year going down the stretch when we were down 10 1⁄2 games with however many we had left, what it's like to play under those kind of pressure situations, and we saw how if you just take it one game at a time,” pitcher Kyle Lohse said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Cole shuts down Diamondbacks as Pirates open road trip with victory
- Pirates look to continue success in cross-country trips
- Pirates notebook: McCutchen unfazed by return to Arizona
- Gameday: Pirates at Diamondbacks, April 25, 2015
- Pirates notebook: Marte, McCutchen out of starting lineup in series finale
- Super-agent Boras says Pirates will have opportunity to re-sign Alvarez, Cole
- Polanco, bullpen come up clutch as Pirates capture win over Cubs
- Pirates notebook: Fan struck by foul ball released from hospital
- Pitchers Worley, Watson work out of jams to help Pirates knock off Cubs
- Woman struck by foul ball in ‘horrid’ scene at Pirates game
- Bonds’ obstruction conviction overturned