Molina wins it in 10th, Cards top Braves 5-4

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS -

ST. LOUIS — They all knew. Every sin­gle one of them. Paul Gold­schmidt and all the St. Louis Car­di­nals. Ozzie Al­bies and the rest of the At­lanta Braves.

Tough to beat Yadier Molina in a big post­sea­son spot.

Molina pushed the Car­di­nals to a de­cid­ing Game 5 of the NL Divi­sion Se­ries, pok­ing a ty­ing sin­gle in the eighth in­ning and then lift­ing a sac­ri­fice fly in the 10th to beat the Braves 5-4 Mon­day.

“I like those mo­ments,” Molina said.

No kid­ding.

Molina slung his bat far into the out­field af­ter his win­ning swing, and the crowd at Busch Sta­dium roared with the long­time heart of the fran­chise.

“An elite, spe­cial player, that’s what he is,” Car­di­nals man­ager Mike Shildt said.

Game 5 will be Wed­nes­day back in At­lanta. The

Car­di­nals will have ace Jack Fla­herty on the mound, and the Braves will go with Mike Foltynewic­z.

“In front of our home fans on Wed­nes­day a Game 5,” first base­man Fred­die Free­man said. “That’s what it’s all about so we’ll be ready to go.”

Kolten Wong led off the

St. Louis 10th with a groundrule dou­ble against Julio Te­heran. Af­ter Gold­schmidt was in­ten­tion­ally walked, Wong ad­vanced on Mar­cell Ozuna’s force­out and eas­ily scam­pered home on Molina’s fly to the front of the warn­ing track in left field.

Wong threw his hands in the air as he ran to­ward the plate. Molina rounded first base with his bat in hand, then flung it away as the cel­e­bra­tion erupted. He dis­carded his bat­ting hel­met as the rest of the Car­di­nals poured onto the field.

“I lost it right there,” the 37-year-old catcher said. “I think I tossed the bat in the bullpen.”

Molina also made a throat-slash­ing ges­ture as he left the field. Braves star Ron­ald Acuña Jr. made a sim­i­lar mo­tion across the top of his chest af­ter haul­ing in Molina’s fly­ball for the fi­nal out of At­lanta’s 3-1 win Sun­day.

Be­fore com­ing up with his first ca­reer game-end­ing RBI in the post­sea­son, Molina tied it at 4 with a two-out sin­gle in the eighth that went just off the top of the glove of a leap­ing Free­man.

“I thought it was go­ing in there,” the 6-foot-5 Free­man said. “I just needed to be

6-7.”

On this day, there was no deny­ing the nine-time All­star in red.

Al­bies home­red and drove in three runs for At­lanta, and Acuña Jr. had four hits. But the NL East cham­pi­ons went 0 for 9 with run­ners in scor­ing po­si­tion, a con­tin­u­ing prob­lem in the post­sea­son over the past two years.

The Braves left the bases loaded in the sixth and sev­enth. Acuña was stranded on third when Josh Don­ald­son flied out in the ninth.

“We’re a hit away from — just some pro­duc­tive outs — from con­tin­u­ing to add on,” man­ager Brian Snitker said.

Ozuna home­red twice for St. Louis, and Gold­schmidt also con­nected. But the NL Cen­tral cham­pi­ons were four outs from a se­cond straight dif­fi­cult loss be­fore Molina de­liv­ered down the stretch.

“It’s not an ac­ci­dent, the suc­cess that he has,” Gold­schmidt said. “He works re­ally hard at it.”

Al­bies gave At­lanta a 4-3 lead with a two-run homer off Dakota Hud­son in the fifth, cap­ping a three-run rally.

The Braves car­ried the ad­van­tage all the way into the eighth, but Gold­schmidt dou­bled and Molina came up with the ty­ing hit off Shane Greene.

“I mean, he’s a ballplayer,” Snitker said, hand­ing Molina per­haps the great­est com­pli­ment that a base­ball lifer will

SU­PER SUB

Braves out­fielder Adam Du­vall drove in a run for the third straight game. He is the first ma­jor lea­guer with five RBIS and no starts in a sin­gle post­sea­son se­ries since Mark Lewis for Cincin­nati in the 1995 NLDS against the Dodgers.

WORTH

RE­MEM­BER­ING

Te­heran was added to the ros­ter af­ter Chris Mar­tin re­ported tight­ness in his left oblique while warm­ing up for the eighth in­ning of Game 1.

UP NEXT

Fla­herty and Foltynewic­z each worked seven in­nings in Game 2. Fla­herty al­lowed three runs while Foltynewic­z pitched three-hit ball in At­lanta’s 3-0 vic­tory.

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