Rookie shortstop Pete Kozma singled home the go-ahead runs with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to lift the St. Louis Cardinals to a 9-7 win over the Washington Nationals, stunning not only the largest crowd in Nationals history, but the entire baseball world on Friday night. The Cardinals claim the series 3-2 after falling behind 6-0 early in the game. It was the largest comeback ever in a winner-take-all postseason game, according to STATS LLC.
With two outs and a runner on third, Yadier Molina and David Freese drew walks to load the bases off Nationals closer Drew Storen. Daniel Descalso ripped a hard shot back up the middle on the first pitch he saw that went off the glove of shortstop Ian Desmond and trickled into center field scoring the tying runs. Then after looking at the first two pitches for strikes, Kozma worked the count to 2-2 with Descalso taking second base uncontested. Kozma then lined a single to right scoring the decisive runs.
The four run ninth capped the comeback after the Nationals gave themselves a two-run lead off Jason Motte in the eighth, when Kurt Suzuki singled in a run with two outs to make the score 7-5.
Washington came out swinging in the early innings, starting the game with a double from Jason Werth, a triple by Bryce Harper and a home run from Ryan Zimmerman to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead before Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright could record an out. Then in the third, Harper homered and after a Zimmerman double, Michael Morse launched a two-run shot ending Wainwright’s night.
From that point on rookies Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal retired 10 straight batters. The Nationals had just one walk and a single after Wainwright was lifted after 2.1 innings.
The Nationals didn’t produce much until the eighth, when Mike Matheny went against everything he talked about in game four by bringing in Motte to pitch the eighth. Motte gave up two straight singles before getting a force out and pop up. Suzuki singled a pitch back up the middle on a fastball low and away to give the Nationals that two run cushion.
In addition to timely hitting, the Cardinals showed great patience at the plate drawing eight walks. Five of those turned into runs for the Cardinals. Descalso also homered and finished with three RBIs. Matt Holliday added two RBIs as well.
The Cardinals face the San Francisco Giants on Sunday in the NLCS.