Baseball

Cardinals bash Braves in record-setting way, roll into to NLCS

The Cardinals had qualified for 13 National League Championship Series before Wednesday night. And then they scored 13 runs, a postseason record 10 of them in the first inning, as they punched their ticket for a 14th LCS by dismantling the Atlanta Braves, 13-1, to win the decisive fifth game in the National League Division Series.

The best-of-seven NLCS will start just after 7 p.m. Friday (St. Louis time) either at Los Angeles with the Cardinals against the Dodgers or against Washington at Busch Stadium, depending on the outcome of that division series later Wednesday.

The Cardinals did something in the first inning that they hadn't done last week in seven innings against Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz. They scored. And scored. And scored some more against the slider-throwing Foltynewicz and his relief as Tommy Edman, Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong all delivered two-run doubles.

Foltynewicz had set down 20 of 24 men he faced last week. He retired only one of eight in Game 5 as the Cardinals parlayed five hits, four walks, a wild pitch and an error as they charged to their historic lead in what had been a highly competitive series. Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty had more than enough support.

"It wasn't how we drew it up, I know that," said Braves manager Brian Snitker. "That thing just kept rolling and we couldn't stop it. You talk about scenarios in the game. You don't cover that one."

Against a pitcher other than Flaherty, the Braves might have thought they at least would have some chance to come back. But Snitker said, "A guy like that, once he gets going and gets in his groove, it's almost insurmountable."

In this age of home runs and strikeouts, the Cardinals scored 10 runs in an inning without a home run.

"It's hard to score 10 runs in an inning with hitting a home run," said Cardinals manager Mike Shildt. "But just great at-bats, relentless."

As the inning – and the game – rolled on, Shildt said his feeling and that of his players was "never enough runs. Just keep eating, boys, keep going, which we did. I love the fact we added on after that."

Flaherty fanned eight in six innings and Shildt said Flaherty lobbied for the sixth after having to pitch out of a bases-loaded spot in the fifth. Shildt said he could have pulled Flaherty, saving him for perhaps earlier work the next series. But Shildt said, "You don't want to sit there and take it lightly. You want to make sure you bring it home. Hard to start managing for the next series before you win this one."

The Cardinals captured their 11th division series out of the 14 they have played. They are 7-6 in previous league championship series.

This marked the fourth time the Cardinals had ended Atlanta's season here in postseason play. They swept the Braves in three games in the NLCS in 1982 and again in 2000. They won the first wild-card game here in 2012.

The Braves' only retaliation came in 1996 when they walloped the Cardinals, 15-0, in Game 7 of the NLCS, scoring six runs in the first inning. Somewhere Donovan Osborne is smiling. He started that game for the Cardinals.

This was the third different stadium in which the Cardinals had eliminated the Braves – Fulton County Stadium (1982), Turner Field (2000 and 2012) and SunTrust Park.

Atlanta hasn't won a playoff series in 18 years, since beating Houston in the division series in 2001. Since then, the Braves have lost 10 consecutive playoff rounds.

And they were using the Tomahawk Chop – there were no tomahawks in evidence Wednesday – on all of those occasions.

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