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Cardinals complete stunning comeback against Nationals to advance to NLCS

Oct 13, 2012, 12:42 AM EDT

Cardinals celebration Getty Getty Images

After the Nationals took an early 6-0 lead over the Cardinals through three innings, Game 5 had all the makings of a laugher. It was anything but.

The Cardinals chipped away throughout and scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to complete a stunning comeback, topping the Nationals 9-7 for the right to face the Giants in the NLCS.

The Cardinals scored one in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the seventh and one in the eighth before getting to Drew Storen in the ninth. Daniel Descalso, who homered in the eighth, singled off Ian Desmond‘s glove to drive home two runs to tie the game before Pete Kozma put the Cardinals ahead with a two-run double into right field. Jason Motte retired the Nationals in order in the bottom of the ninth to finish off the shocking victory.

The comeback wasn’t just stunning, it was also historic. This was the biggest comeback ever in an elimination game. The Yankees previously came back from four runs down against the Red Sox in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS while the Pirates came back from four runs down against the Senators in Game 7 of the 1925 World Series. Yes, the Nationals now share some dubious history with the Senators.

The Cardinals will now move on to the National League Championship series, which will begin Sunday night in San Francisco.

  1. jimw81 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    Look at the bright side, Nats fans. Stephen Strasburg had a 0.00 ERA in the postseason! Something to build on!

    • jxegh - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:49 AM

      They wouldn’t have made much further – a seven game series without Strasburg would be impossible. But of course Rizzo thinks they’re going to be in the playoffs every year!

      • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:23 AM

        Well, compared to the Cardinals – who finished 5th in the NL and couldn’t even win a weak division – I guess the Nats look like they *could* make the playoffs every year! The Cards don’t even deserve to be in the postseason, so who’s going to talk smack about the Nats?

      • dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:37 AM

        As all major sports have shown in recent years, you just need to make the postseason and anything can happen. The lowest seeded team has won 3/4 major championships last year alone (Kings, Giants, Cardinals), the NBA being the lone exception.

      • cardsfanandi - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:55 AM

        Cubsfan, give it a rest. That ‘number 5’ team just beat the team with the best record in baseball. This series should’ve been an easy elimination for the Nats, that’s why we played them. Don’t take it out on the Cardinals because they were able to pull an upset. With your logic, we should just put the teams with the best records from each league directly into the World Series again, which will reduce the chances the Cubs will be back in it anytime soon by even more. Be careful what you inadvertently wish for.

  2. hardballtalkusername - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:46 AM

    I don’t understand why Davey Johnson didn’t walk Kozma, who has hurt the Nats a few times this series, and make them PH for the pitchers spot. I could be wrong but wasn’t the backup catcher (Cruz) the only one on the bench to PH? It makes no sense at all after the runner stole second and it would have forced Motte of the game too. That was one of the worst managerial decisions I have ever witnessed. I would be so mad if I were a Nats fan.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:04 AM

      And Sports Illustrated just said how much of a genius he is. So now not only is Bobby Valentine not as good a manager as ESPN said he was Davey Johnson also isn’t as SI said. My world is upside down now.

    • dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:28 AM

      Questionable decisions by the manager no doubt, but im not sure any true Nats fan will say it didnt cost us the game. Im not sure tied after the 9th could we win it being deflated like that anyways. But what i dont get is how we eased up our aggressive swinging, and our pitchers pitched not to lose. Gio was scared of a grand slam and walked in a run, Suzuki and Storen both telegraphed the Slider and i dont get it. Molina in particular was late on both fastballs id stick with that until he either beat you or you beat him. And as late as he was, id expect Storen to win that battle. Just cuz his slider was so low they both knew it couldn’t be hit for a home run doesnt mean it needs to be telegraphed like that. But when you lose like that you can question everything. Not walking Kozma definitely made no sense, thats for sure.

      • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:39 AM

        Not that it matters anymore but I’d be more mad that during Freese and Desmonds’ at bats Storen disnt throw them a pitch anywhere close enough for them to chase. Storen choked. He was awful.

      • wetmorepsu12 - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:34 AM

        You lost me at the phrase “any true Nats fan.” I have yet to meet/find one of them.

  3. mgflolox - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    As a Giants fan, I would was rooting for the Nats because I would rather see the the Giants play them without home field advantage than play the Cards with home field advantage. That said, don’t hang your heads Nationals fans, that is a very well put together organization, and I’ll bet they will have many more postseason chances in the next few years.

    • mgflolox - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:23 AM

      I meant Desmond, not Jennings, Get those two confused all the time.

  4. biffnasty - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Good thing they shut down Strasbourg. Idiots

    • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:24 AM

      You are an idiot. Strasburg would have needed to hit some HRs in this series to help the Nats, who managed only 5 runs in their two wins.

  5. thedudabides - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:54 AM

    ^thats what Mets fans thought in 2006 and after 86′

    • adenzeno - Oct 13, 2012 at 6:53 AM

      Yes I did…dammit

  6. thedudabides - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    Comment meant for mgflolox

    • mgflolox - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:03 AM

      Admitted, you never know what will happen in the future, but I think this team has a solid enough young talent base that they will be a force over the next few years.

  7. schmedley69 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:56 AM

    There you go, Nats fans. That’s what it feels like to have your heart ripped from your chest. I’m glad that you got to experience that feeling before you get to experience the sweet taste of victory. Most fans suffer through a lot of losing before they finally get to see a winner. To the true Nats fans who have been with them since the beginning, like natstowngreg, I feel for you. Tough loss. For the bandwagon jumpers who climbed aboard a month ago hoping to ride the wave to glory, you got what you deserved.

    Looking forward to the NL East race in 2013. If you Nats fans actually show up in the regular season, I might start to respect you. We are going to find out what kind of a baseball town DC really is.

    • dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:11 AM

      True, most teams, including the Cardinals, lose before they win. But they dont lose like this. Some teams fold after having lost their chance, like the Rangers, Astros, and Cubs. We are young and i hope we take this experience further, but that was so tough to watch. Im 29 so ims too young to remember the Redskins glory years, but in 20 years watching Washington sports that i do remember, that was the most depressing thing ive ever seen. We get so few chances in any of our sports and there always heartbreaking. Redskins kickers missing easy kicks in the playoffs, then INT for a touchdown to lose to Seattle, Caps repeated disappointments in the postseason including missing an open goal in a critical game 3 against the Red Wings in 1998, then get swept. Dont get me started on the Wizards, i wont watch them. And now this. Im very loyal and watch as many games as i can but watching this one, yeah, that was brutal.

      • mgflolox - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:21 AM

        Don’t feel too bad dcfan, that is an exciting young team you have to watch for the next few years. Harper, Strasburg, Zimmerman, Jennings, Espinosa, Ramos. There a lot of players I would gladly pay to see on that ballclub. I remember the A’s losing the ALCS in 3 to the Orioles in ’71 before winning 3 straight World Series. It could very well happen there.

      • dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:30 AM

        Thanks, but it will take weeks to get over this one, unless the Redskins make a run, and they wont. Not this year.

      • schmedley69 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:41 AM

        You’ll get a title someday. The more losing you do in between makes the winning that much sweeter. Phillies fans when through a 25 year championship drought between 1983, when the Sixers won it, and 2008 when the Phillies won. We are still waiting for out first Super Bowl for the Eagles. I am old enough to remember the 3 Redskins Super Bowls. as well as 3 Cowboys Super Bowls and 4 Giants Super Bowls. The Eagles are always a bridesmaid. Being a sports fan isn’t easy. Hang in there.

  8. brewcrewfan54 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:57 AM

    Did being from your neighborhood help today Rizzo, you gigantic douchebag?

  9. miketreedy - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    As a Rangers fan this brought back memories of game 6 from the World Series. You have to give credit to the Cardinals. They never give up!

  10. saints97 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    And the Cardinals continue to be the only team in the NL Central that can win in October. How’s that great regular season taste now, Reds fans?

    • cardslifer - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:36 AM

      I can’t say I disagree, but let’s not lower ourselves. Only team we should be focused on is San Fran!

      Go Cards

  11. ninjasports - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    The Nats were done once they shut down Strasburg. Terrible choice.

    • brewcrewfan54 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:09 AM

      While I agree with that shutting down Stras wasn’t a good odea it had nothing to do with this game. Storen didn’t throw strikes and that SS disn’t make a play he should have made. Cardinals, who I hate absolutely.are a battle tested team. Against them you gotta make those plays.

  12. 78mu - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Last year in game 6 it was Freese and Puma that got the hits when they were down to their last strike.

    But Daniel Descalzo and Pete Kozma? Descalzo had trouble hitting 220 this year while Kozma couldn’t hit in the minors.

    Freese and Berkman are proven hitters while DD and PK are typical good-field no-hit middle infielders. At this rate, if I’m the Giants I’d be worried if they have the Cards down to their final strike with Boggs at the plate and Motte on deck.

  13. dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    Half the remarks to the Nats losing have involved Strasburg, when he had nothing to do with it. Gotta get used to it i guess, cuz i doubt it will stop.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:25 AM

      It won’t stop…you are right though, really had nothing to do with Strasburg. In the end you really have to credit the Cards once again. Did you see some of those 2 strike takes. I mean, those were some pretty decent sliders. Couldn’t believe they laid off. Man, I thought the Phillies going out last year was bad….but this had to be horrible for Nats fans.

  14. shivablast - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    That’s what they get for shutting down Strasburg. Bunch of clowns down there in DC. “Hey, let’s try to get through the playoffs without our MVP.” Genius!

    • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:29 AM

      Clearly Shiva has never seen a Nats game! LaRoche was their MVP and Gio was their best pitcher – so what are you talking about? And don’t try to blame their losses on the Nats. MLB changed the rules to let a pretty crappy Cardinals team into the postseason where anything can happen. And it did. Congrats to the Cards and all, but they wouldn’t even have been there in any other year. Having Strasburg wouldn’t have helped much – the offense sucked until tonight and the Cardinals had our number. Oh well. That’s luck.

      • cardslifer - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:42 AM

        That’s luck?

        Their plate descpline is what got them to where they are.

        Luck will only take you so far.

        Heart will take you all the way.

  15. sailcat54 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    The Cards vs. the Giants will make a much more interesting NLCS than the Nats vs. Giants.

  16. txnative61 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:13 AM

    Cards again deliver most stunning playoff Baseball ever. Nats should have shown last years WS game 6 in the clubhouse before the game. I had the Giants sweep in Cincy for this year’s stunner, but WOW! Every series went to 5 games. I like post-steroid baseball! Can it get better??

  17. 49ersgiants4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    Past two champs battling it out this week this is getting exciting

  18. jl9830 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:37 AM

    This is pretty much exactly what the Cardinals did to the Mets in 2006. And the Mets never really recovered. Hopefully the Nationals do, they’re a fun team to follow!

  19. creek0512 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    The Nationals deserved to lose for refusing to play their best player. Also, ‘Nattitude’ is just dumb.

  20. ahayden9 - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:15 AM

    Had the Cardinals not blown game 1 this would have been a sweep. Don’t forget that. People saying Strasburg not playing is the difference are just making sorry excuses. The Cardinals WON this series, not the other way around. Blew game 1, dominated games 2 and 3. The Jim Joyce show in game 4 was a joke. And game 5…wow. Nats have a bright future, but we can talk about that all offseason. GO CARDS!! 12in12

  21. creek0512 - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:21 AM

    I also hope the Nationals don’t make the playoffs after being this arrogant about “saving” Strasbourg. What are you saving him for, the Mexican League?

  22. seanb20124 - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    Please listen to the sports junkies Monday morning for their complete analysis

  23. jucam1 - Oct 13, 2012 at 6:02 AM

    Wait…. Where is that amazing “Natitude”…. I thought we were gonna have more Natitude and “NatPride” in these playoffs…. I’m confused….. Clown team and a made up clown fan base….. Good work Cards

  24. hooockey - Oct 13, 2012 at 6:27 AM

    And sadly, the Nationals show that they still are the Expos, curses and all.

  25. dannythebisforbeast - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    As much as I rooted against the Nats. I kind of was hoping they would hold on, started remembering how much I hate the Cardinals pulling that last out crap.
    Nats fans welcome to the club of heartbreaking, mindlowing disappointment. You are officially a fan base, great atmosphere last night. That said Ruben Amaro your on the clock cuz Washington Is not going away.

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