The St. Louis Cardinals get a game-tying single in the eighth and a walk-off sacrifice fly in the tenth, both off the bat of Yadier Molina, and beat the Atlanta Braves 5-4 at Busch Stadium.
Monday’s thrilling victory evened the best-of-five National League Division Series at two games apiece, with the deciding fifth game to take place either Wednesday afternoon or Wednesday night in Atlanta.
Starting pitcher Miles Mikolas (1-0) came out of the bullpen to pitch the tenth and retired the Braves in order to earn the win.
Julio Teherean (0-1) took the loss for the Braves, giving up a double to Kolten Wong leading off the tenth, then walking Paul Goldschmidt intentionally.
Marcell Ozuna’s grounder to second base got Wong over to third before Molina’s fly won it.
“An amazing game by both teams,” Molina said with a smile. “My at-bat in the eighth, I was trying to get contact on the ball. Don’t try to do too much. I was lucky enough to find the hole. It was so close. I was so happy he didn’t catch it.”
In the tenth, Molina says things we kind of a blur after he drove in the game-winner. “I lost it right there. I think I tossed the bat. It was just fun to get the win. It was loud. I’m just jumping around. I’m happy for the team.”
The Cardinals gave starter Dakota Hudson a quick, early lead as Goldschmidt and Ozuna hit back to back home runs to left to give St. Louis a 2-0 lead.
Ozzie Albies’ sac fly in the third put Atlanta on the board, but the Cards extended their lead to 3-1 in the fourth inning on Ozuna’s second homer of the game.
Things seemed to come unraveled for the home team in the fifth, as the Braves struck for three runs to take a 4-3 lead on Albies’ two run homer.
But after Goldschmidt’s one out double to left and a strikeout by Ozuna in the eighth, Molina hit a liner that just got over first baseman Freddie Freeman’s glove to knot the contest 4-4.
Cards closer Carlos Martinez was brought in to pitch the ninth, just a day after giving up three runs to Atlanta to lose the game.
On Monday, after giving up a leadoff double to Ronald Acuna, Junior, Martinez retired the next three hitters to end the threat.
St. Louis Manager Mike Shildt says he talked with Martinez before the game. “I caught up with him in the food room,” Shildt said. “It was a beautiful response. I won’t get into great detail. But he’s got that cornerback mentality, you know? At it was almost like, what do you mean? I’m good. Ready to go.”
Shildt spent much of his postgame interview session talking about his catcher, calling Molina an elite, special player. “He did it behind the plate today, helped navigate the relievers through it. Did a nice job with Dak, who I thought did a nice job as well.”
The Cardinals will send Jack Flaherty to the mound in the decisive Game 5. He’ll be opposed by Game 2 winner Mike Foltynewicz.
The Cardinals won their first extra inning postseason game since Game 1 of the 2013 NLCS against the Dodgers, and have won their last four extra inning postseason games at home dating back to a 3-2, 10 inning loss to Boston in the 1946 World Series.
Wednesday’s game will mark the fifth NLDS Game 5 in franchise history. The Cardinals are 3-1 in previous such games.
Ozuna is the first Cardinals player with multiple homers in a postseason game since Carlos Beltran hit two in Game 2 of the 2012 NLDS against Washington.
Molina’s last game-winning RBI in the playoffs was a game winning home run against the Mets in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS at Shea Stadium.
Monday’s announced attendance at Busch Stadium was 42,203. The game was not a sellout.