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Cardinals vs. Nationals final score: St. Louis shocks Washington with 4 9-inning runs, advances to NLCS

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals met for Game 5 of the NLDS, and as befits these last few Cardinals teams, it was startlingly and surprisingly tense. The final score illustrates exactly the kind of game it was—messy, bizarre, and unwatchably anxious. And somehow, it ended in a Cardinals victory. Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, of all people, were this year's heroes.

Adam Wainwright's struggles put the Cardinals into a 3-0 hole before the first out was recorded—and by the time he allowed his last home run, the team was down 6-0 and the Nationals were already being fitted for their NLCS patches. But the Cardinals' young new bullpen was nearly perfect for the next five innings; Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, Edward Mujica, and Mitchell Boggs were all scoreless.

And in the meantime, the Cardinals put runs on the board. Never as many as we wanted them to—the Cardinals struggled with runners on and failed, continually, to turn brief rallies into lasting blow-ups. But they scratched and clawed runs together, and Daniel Descalso's home run brought them, briefly, within one run of the Nats.

Of course it came down to David Freese as the go-ahead run in the ninth inning of an elimination game. He worked a walk, Daniel Descalso shot a grounder past Ian Desmond to score two runs, and then Pete Kozma, once the Cardinals' biggest draft bust in years, shot a 2-2 line drive in front of Jayson Werth to score two more.

The Cardinals advance to the NLCS. Somehow, again.