One Pitch Away, Nationals Fall to Cards’ Miraculous Comeback

The Washington Nationals’ historic season came to historic, heart-breaking end with a 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NL division series. Up by two runs in the ninth inning and one pitch from advancing to the NL Championship series, the Nationals gave up four runs, ending an exciting season with a thud.

In the other dugout, it was a miraculous comeback for the defending World Series champions, who will face the San Francisco Giants for the right to advance to the World Series.

Washington had the best record in baseball during the regular season, but the young postseason neophytes at one point held six-run lead that it simply squandered.

Closer Drew Storen took the mound with a two-run lead in the ninth and gave up four runs, allowing two-run singles to Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma. Storen had the Cardinals down to their last strike with two outs, but he walked Yadier Molina and David Freese.

“We had it right there, and the most disappointing thing I’ll say is that I just let these guys down,” Storen said. “I know there’s an unbelievable crowd and unbelievable support, but for the amount of adversity we dealt with this year, for it to come down to that was kind of tough.”

It was the largest comeback ever in a winner-take-all postseason game, according to STATS LLC. No other club in this sort of ultimate pressure situation had come back from more than four runs down.

Storen threw five pitches with two strikes and two outs in the ninth. All were balls.

“I think he just tried to be too fine,” manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s got a great-moving fastball. Just need to throw it over.”

Storen said he had no problems with the umpire’s strike zone. The Cardinals were just disciplined at the plate when it counted.

“I made good pitches,” he said. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I have no regrets.”

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