Cards shock Nats, advance to NLCS

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Cards shock Nats, advance to NLCS

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WASHINGTON (AP) Doesn't matter how bad things look for the St. Louis Cardinals. Trailing by a bunch, down to their last strike, they simply stay calm and do what it takes to win.Erasing an early six-run hole in Game 5 slowly but surely, the defending World Series champion 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.
RELATED: Giants-Reds NLCS broadcast schedule 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.
RELATED: Giants to start Bumgarner and Vogelsong in Games 1 and 2
And to think: Washington, which won the NL East and led the majors with 98 wins, got off to as good a start as possible Friday.Seven pitches, three runs. Just like that, Jayson Werth's double, Bryce Harper's triple and Zimmerman's homer got the hosts jump-started in their first Game 5.That opening outburst, plus a big third inning highlighted by the 19-year-old Harper's homer, made it 6-0.St. Louis was not about to go gently into the night, though. The Cardinals chipped away, chipped away. One run off 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez in the fourth, a pair in the fifth, another in the seventh off Edwin Jackson - the Game 3 starter and loser, and an all-around surprising choice for midgame relief.Suddenly, it was 6-4. Descalso's homer made it 6-5 in the eighth. And a four-run ninth completed the reversal.In Game 6 of last year's World Series, the Cardinals twice were one strike from losing, before Freese's two-run triple in the ninth, then Lance Berkman's tying RBI single in the 10th. Freese's homer won it in the 11th, and St. Louis went on to a 6-2 victory in Game 7.Here they were, doing it again.All in front of a Nationals Park-record crowd of 45,966 witnessing the first postseason series in the nation's capital in 79 years. So seemingly close to a significant triumph, the Nationals - and their fans - left disappointed.The Nationals went down without All-Star ace Stephen Strasburg. The team said he'd thrown enough this year and didn't put him on the playoff roster.

Blach only lasts three innings as Giants get mashed by Mets in loss

Blach only lasts three innings as Giants get mashed by Mets in loss

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Yoenis Cespedes had three hits including a two-run homer and Lucas Duda had three hits including a solo blast as the New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 11-4 on Friday night.

The win snapped the Mets' four-game losing streak. They had lost seven of eight.

The Giants have lost 10 of their last 11 games, 12 of their last 14 and 19 of their last 24.

Along with Cespedes and Duda, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto all had three hits.

After being held to five runs over their last three games, the Mets broke out their hitting slump, combining for 20 hits.

All but one Mets starter (Jose Reyes) had at least one hit and all but two (Reyes and Cabrera) drove in at least one run.

Seth Lugo (2-1) won for the third time in his last four starts. He gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings and was 1 for 2 with one RBI.

Gorkys Hernandez hit a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the sixth off Lugo that spoiled his bid for a fifth straight quality start.

Cespedes' ninth homer of the season highlighted a six-run second inning in which the Mets sent 10 batters to the plate.

Cespedes had a double in the sixth that highlighted a three-run inning.

In 13 games since coming off the disabled list Cespedes is 17 for 43 with seven extra-base hits including three home runs.

He's 8 for 18 with three home runs in his last four games at AT&T Park going back to last season.

Ty Blach (4-5) gave up seven runs in three innings. He's 0-3 with a 6.84 ERA in his last five starts.

Cabrera was activated from the disabled list and inserted into the New York Mets' starting lineup at second base rather than shortstop and he said he wants to be traded. Cabrera had three hits Friday night.

The 31-year-old, a two-time All-Star and a veteran of 11 big league seasons, had not started at second since Sept. 28, 2014. The Mets started Jose Reyes at shortstop against San Francisco on Friday night and Wilmer Flores at third.

TRANSACTIONS:

Mets: Second-round draft selection Mark Vientos signed out of high school for a $1.5 million signing bonus. The infielder was the 59th overall selection in this year's draft. . The Mets also signed their third- and fifth-round picks, OF Quinn Brodey and 1B/OF Matt Winaker (both from Stanford). . Brodey signed for a $500,000 bonus and Winaker for $280,000.

Giants: LHP Bryan Morris was designated for assignment and Steven Okert was called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner (separated left shoulder) threw 45 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday at the team's spring training complex in Scottsdale, Arizona. . Utilityman Eduardo Nunez went on the 10-day DL with a hamstring injury. The Giants activated 3B Conor Gillaspie (back spasms).

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Mets RHP Jacob deGrom (6-3, 394 ERA) has allowed one earned run over 17 innings in his last two starts. He's 3-1 with a 3.62 ERA in five career starts against the Giants. San Francisco RHP Johnny Cueto (5-7, 4.42) is 1-6 with a 4.13 ERA in his last nine starts. He's 4-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 12 career starts against the Mets

Morse reveals he barely remembers Harper-Strickland brawl after concussion

Morse reveals he barely remembers Harper-Strickland brawl after concussion

Giants reliever Hunter Strickland received a six-game suspension for his involvement in a May 29 benches-clearing brawl with Bryce Harper and the Nationals. Harper originally was suspended for four games before winning his appeal and served a three-game suspension. 

But the player who has lost the most amont of time came sprinting from first base trying to break up the melee. 

Michael Morse clashed heads with Jeff Samardzija and went crashing down. He has been out since with concussion symptoms and revealed Friday he barely remembers anything from the fight, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

After missing nearly a month of games, Morse feels much better, though effects from the concussion are still there. Every day Morse goes to Stanford for testing and therapy and still deals with lingering symptoms like dizziness once he raises his heartbeat and headaches. 

If Morse ever joins the reeling Giants is a question in itself. 

San Francisco currently has the second-worst record in baseball at 27-48 behind only the Phillies and have already started to shift to younger players. No matter, the 35-year-old Morse wants to be a part of the team. 

"You know me," Morse said to reporters before Friday's game. "Whatever happens, happens. I'm a happy-go-lucky guy. I'm happy to be with these guys. They're going through such hard times.

"I want to be with them, if not on the field, then off the field, helping them mentally if not physically."

In 24 games this season, Morse is batting .194 with just one home run. If his time has come to an end, the one home run was one to remember. 

Morse, in his first game back with the Giants since 2014 launched a pinch-hit solo home run to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth inning against the Dodgers on April 26. The fan-favorite raised his hands at the crack of the bat, bringing back memories of Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS.