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Cardinals vs. Nationals, Game 5: St. Louis advances to NLCS with 9-7 win

The Nationals completed a historical collapse by blowing a 6-0 lead and losing to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.

Patrick McDermott - Getty Images

After falling in a hole early, the St. Louis Cardinals are headed to the National League Championship Series after becoming the first team to ever come back from a six-run deficit in a winner-take-all postseason game by defeating the Nationals, 9-7.

Early in the game, it was all Washington as they had no trouble beating up on Adam Wainwright and jumping out to a quick lead. The first three batters of the game for the Nationals hit a double, triple and home run to take a 3-0 lead before Wainwright could record his first out of the game.

With home runs by Bryce Harper and Michael Morse in the bottom of the third, the Nationals extended that lead to 6-0 and ended Wainwright's night on the mound. However, from that point on, the Nationals struggled to do anything more offensively, managing just one hit and one walk in the next four innings.

During that time, the Cardinals chipped away at the Washington lead, scoring a run in the fourth, two in the fifth and one more in the seventh. The slow rally eventually cut the lead to just one run when Daniel Descalso belted a home run over the right field wall.

However, the Nationals finally found some offense and seemingly found the insurance run they needed in the bottom of the eighth against Jason Motte. Adam LaRoche and Morse each hit singles to lead off the inning before Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out single to drive in LaRoche.

In the top of the ninth, Drew Storen allowed a lead off double, but seemingly recovered by forcing Matt Holliday into a groundout and by striking out Allen Craig. However, Storen walked each of the next two batters and allowed hits by Descalso and Peter Kozma to drive in four runs.

Storen struck out Motte to finish the inning, but the damage was done as he failed to take advantage of five separate occasions when he needed a single strike to end the game and win the series. The Nationals went quietly in the bottom of the ninth as Jayson Werth popped out, Harper struck out and Ryan Zimmerman popped out.

In the game, Harper concluded a record-breaking rookie season by becoming the youngest player to ever hit a triple in the postseason. He also joined Andruw Jones as the second teenager to hit a home run in postseason play.

Game 1 of the NLCS against the San Francisco Giants is scheduled to begin on Sunday at AT&T Park.