October 15th , 2012 9:15 am Leave a comment

Cards, Yanks survive Game 5

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Erasing an early six-run hole in Game 5 slowly but surely, the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals got a tying two-out, two-run single from Daniel Descalso and a go-ahead two-run single from Pete Kozma in the ninth inning and came all the way back to beat the Washington Nationals 9-7 Friday night and win their NL division series.

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 down.

First-year manager Mike Matheny and the wild-card Cardinals, the last team to clinch a playoff spot this year, will open the NL championship series at San Francisco on Sunday.

Down 7-5 with two outs in the ninth against Nationals closer Drew Storen, the Cardinals twice were a strike away from losing. But Storen walked both of those batters, Yadier Molina and David Freese, setting the stage for the unheralded Descalso and Kozma — Nationals manager Davey Johnson even called the rookie “Cosmos” before Game 4 — to come through.

When Cardinals closer Jason Motte got Ryan Zimmerman to pop out to second base a half-hour past midnight, the Cardinals streamed from the visiting dugout for a rather muted celebration, all in all.

This was nothing new to them.

Over the past two years, St. Louis is 6-0 when facing elimination, including victories in Games 6 and 7 of the 2011 World Series against Texas.

Down to their last strike in the Fall Classic a year ago, trailing by the exact same 7-5 score, the Cardinals rallied in Game 6 and then took the championship in what turned out to be the final year with the club for slugging first baseman Albert Pujols and then-manager Tony La Russa. Now Matheny, who got the Cardinals into the playoffs as the second NL wild-card team on the next-to-last day of the regular season, has them back in the NLCS.

Yankees……………………….3

Orioles…………………………1

NEW YORK (AP) — Yankees-Orioles. Playoffs. Disputed home run to right field. Yankees win.

Sound familiar?

CC Sabathia and his New York teammates saw Nate McLouth’s long drive called foul by the slimmest of margins — hello, Jeffrey Maier — and then hung on to beat Baltimore 3-1 Friday in the deciding Game 5 of the AL division series.

With Alex Rodriguez benched, the Yankees advanced to the AL championship series against the Detroit Tigers, starting Saturday night in the Bronx.

Sabathia pitched a four-hitter, wriggling out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning. It was his first career postseason complete game, and the first for the Yankees since Roger Clemens did it in 2000.

Yet it was another piece of history that this game evoked.

Baltimore again was stung on a close play in right, echoing what happened across the street at the old Yankee Stadium in the 1996 AL championship opener.

This time, with the Orioles trailing 1-0 in the sixth, McLouth sent a 3-1 pitch deep down the right-field line. Eyes turned to right field umpire Fieldin Culbreth, who demonstrably waved foul with both arms.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to ask for a video review, and five of the umpires went down a tunnel to examine the images. When they ran back onto the field about two minutes later, they didn’t make any signal — meaning the original call stood. McLouth struck out on the next pitch, ending the inning.

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