Washington, DC (Sports Network) - It took the largest comeback in a do-or-die game in postseason history, but the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals are back in the National League Championship Series for the second consecutive year.
Trailing by six after three innings and two in the ninth, the Cardinals came roaring back with four runs in the final frame, as Pete Kozma slapped a go- ahead, two-run single to lift the Cardinals to a 9-7 victory over the Washington Nationals in the deciding Game 5 of their NLDS on Friday at Nationals Park.
Down 7-5 to start the ninth, Carlos Beltran ripped a leadoff double into center field off Nationals closer Drew Storen (1-1) and moved to third on Matt Holliday's groundout.
Allen Craig then fanned before Yadier Molina battled back from a 2-2 count to work a walk. David Freese, last year's World Series MVP, then worked his way back from a 1-2 hole to earn a free pass and load the bases.
Daniel Descalso then slapped the first pitch he saw back up the middle and Ian Desmond made a diving attempt at shortstop, but the ball tipped off his glove and trickled into center field, allowing Beltran and pinch-runner Adron Chambers to score and knot the game at 7-7.
After Descalso swiped second, Komza slapped a base hit down the right-field line to give St. Louis a two-run lead.
Jason Motte (1-0) then retired the Nationals in order in the bottom half to send the Cardinals to their 7th NLCS since 2000.