Cardinals Oust Braves NLDS
ATLANTA (AP) — With a stunning outburst their first time up, the St. Louis Cardinals scored 10 runs for the biggest opening inning in postseason history and dealt the Atlanta Braves another playoff heartbreak with a 13-1 rout in decisive Game 5 of the NL Division Series on Wednesday.
Before many fans had reached their seats, the Cardinals were already booking their plans for the NL Championship Series, where they will face the Washington Nationals in a best-of-seven set beginning Friday.
Those teams were meeting in their own Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. It will be St. Louis’ first NLCS trip since 2014.
For the Braves, it might take a while to get over this debacle.
After pitching seven scoreless innings in a Game 2 win, Mike Foltynewicz retired only one hitter before getting yanked. First baseman Freddie Freeman made a crucial error that might have limited the damage. The Cardinals scored their final run of the inning on a strikeout — a wild pitch in the dirt that skipped away from catcher Brian McCann.
It was Atlanta’s 10th straight postseason round loss since its last victory 18 long years ago, tying the ignominious mark set by the Chicago Cubs between 1908 and 2003.
St. Louis leadoff man Dexter Fowler batted three times before the bottom of Atlanta’s order got its first looks, and the Cardinals made several changes after their 10-spot in what might’ve been the first set of defensive changes ever made by a team before its opponent had batted.
There was no need to worry about any more offense with Jack Flaherty on the mound, coming off one of the great second halves by a starting pitcher in baseball history.
The 23-year-old right-hander had not given up more than three runs in 15 starts after the All-Star break, posting a 0.91 ERA.
He certainly wasn’t going to let this massive lead get away, though Josh Donaldson — in perhaps his final game with the Braves — gave the fans a brief reason to cheer in a 13-0 game when he homered over the center-field wall in the fourth.
Dodgers 3, 10 innings
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Howie Kendrick hit a tiebreaking grand slam off Joe Kelly in the 10th inning, and the Washington Nationals overcame a three-run deficit with a late rally to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers and advance to the NL Championship Series against St. Louis.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw blew a 3-1 lead by allowing homers to Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto on consecutive pitches in the eighth.
The wild-card Nationals open the NLCS at St. Louis on Friday night. The seven-time defending NL West champion Dodgers, who led the NL with 106 wins, remain without a World Series title since 1988.
Adam Eaton walked against Kelly leading off the 10th, Rendon doubled on a drive that lodged in the left field wall and Soto was intentionally walked.
Kendrick fouled off a pitch, then hit a 97 mph fastball just over the wall in center for his second career slam. The other one was a game-ending, 11th-inning drive against San Francisco in August 2017.
Daniel Hudson got the win, retiring Will Smith on a drive to the right field warning track with one on and one out in the ninth, then getting Chris Taylor on a liner to center.
Sean Doolittle pitched the 10th for the Nationals.
The Nationals/Montreal Expos franchise won a postseason series for only the second time, the first since the Expos beat Philadelphia in a 1981 Division Series caused by the midseason players’ strike.