Nationals top Astros in Game 7 to win 1st World Series title

Nationals top Astros in Game 7 to win 1st World Series title

Nationals 6 Astros 2

(Washington wins series 4-3)

HOUSTON — Almost out of contention in May, champs in October.

Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and the Washington Nationals completed their amazing comeback journey — fittingly with one final, late rally on the road.

In Game 7 of the World Series, no less.

Kendrick and Rendon homered in the seventh inning as the Nationals overcame a two-run deficit, rocking the Houston Astros 6-2 Wednesday night to claim the first title in franchise history.

With all eyes on Max Scherzer and his remarkable recovery after a painkilling injection, these Nationals truly embraced their shot in the first Series when the road team won every game.

Even more against the odds: Juan Soto and Washington rallied from behind to win five elimination games this post-season, an unprecedented feat.

Stephen Strasburg, Patrick Corbin and the Nats brought the first World Series championship to the nation’s capital since ol’ Walter Johnson delivered the crown for the Senators in 1924.

This franchise started out as the Montreal Expos in 1969 when the major leagues expanded beyond the border, putting a team with tricolour caps at jaunty Jarry Park. They moved to D.C. in 2005, ending Washington’s three-decade-plus wait for big league baseball after the Senators left town to become the Texas Rangers.

But the incredible path these wild-card Nationals with the curly W logo took, well, no one could have imagined.

Having lost star slugger Bryce Harper to free agency and beset by bullpen woes, Washington plummeted to 19-31 in late May. It got so bad there was talk around town the Nationals might fire manager Dave Martinez and trade away Scherzer.

Instead, they stuck with the motto that sprung up on T-shirts — Stay In The Fight.

And months later they finished it, indeed.

For the 43,326 revved-up fans at Minute Maid Park, it was a combination of shock and disappointment. So close to seeing the Astros win their second crown in three years, they watched their chance suddenly vanish as Houston fell apart.

Washington kept pulling away after taking the lead, with Adam Eaton’s two-run single in the ninth accounting for the final margin.

Zack Greinke was in complete control until Rendon — a Houston prep and college star — hit a home run that cut Houston’s lead to 2-1.

When Soto followed with a one-out walk, manager AJ Hinch decided to make a move. He’d had ace starter Gerrit Cole warming up in the bullpen earlier, but this call was for Will Harris.

Kendrick connected on the second pitch, slicing a drive that hit the screen attached to the right field foul pole. Just like that, everything had changed for the team in orange that led the majors in wins, and the ballpark fell silent.

For Kendrick, another timely blow. At 36, playing on the oldest team in the majors, the journeyman earned the MVP award for the NL Championship Series against St. Louis after hitting the winning grand slam in the 10th inning of the deciding Game 5 of the Division Series at Dodger Stadium.

Then again, this was nothing new for the Nationals.

Washington rallied in the eighth to beat Milwaukee in the wild-card game and took the last two to beat Los Angeles in the NLDS, setting up a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS.

Far away, a big crowd poured into Nationals Park for a watch party. That was the stadium where Houston hammered the Nats for three games last weekend, but their luck changed in Texas.

This World Series had lacked a lot of drama, aside from a volatile call of interference in Washington’s Game 6 win that stoked heated debate across the sports world. Who knew rule 5.09(a)(11) could stir such passion?

With Greinke and Scherzer grunting on every pitch, Game 7 was a classic duel from the start.

Yuli Gurriel put the Astros ahead with a home run in the second and Carlos Correa added an RBI single off Scherzer that made it 2-0 in the fifth.

Scherzer was done after the fifth, but he had done his job to keep it close. Only a few days earlier, the three-time Cy Young Award winner had been unable to lift his right arm because of nerve irritation near his neck.

Daniel Hudson closed it out for the Nationals, who made Houston pay for stranding so many runners on base all game. Hudson struck out Michael Brantley for the last out, then threw his glove to start the celebration.

For the Astros, who brought baseball into the Space Age with their far-out Astrodome and AstroTurf, and helped zoom the game into the galaxy of the Analytics Era, it was a startling end.

Houston shares a spring training complex in Florida with the Nationals and reported to camp in February full of high hopes.

The Astros breezed to the AL West title, edged Tampa Bay in a five-game ALDS and topped the Yankees in the ALCS. They played through front-office fiasco, which led to the firing of an executive for a boorish rant at female reporters during a clubhouse celebration.

UP NEXT

The Astros and Nationals start training side-by-side in a few months and open exhibition play with a World Series rematch on Feb. 22 at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. They met in their Grapefruit League opener this year and Scherzer gave up a home run to the first batter of the game.

———

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,183 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

50.5% of all active cases are variants of concern

Whistle Stop Cafe owner Christopher Scott and his sister Melodie pose for a photo at the Mirror restaurant. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Alberta Health Services delivers ‘closure order’ to Mirror restaurant

Alberta Health Services says it has delivered a closure order to a… Continue reading

Flags bearers hold the Canadian flag high during the Flags of Remembrance ceremony in Sylvan Lake in this October file photo. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
New project to pay tribute to Canadians killed in Afghanistan

Flags of Remembrance scheduled for Sept. 11

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta vaccine rollout expanding to front-line health-care workers

More than 240,000 eligible health-care workers can begin booking vaccine appointments starting… Continue reading

File photo
Security and police block the entrance to GraceLife Church as a fence goes up around it near Edmonton on Wednesday April 7, 2021. The Alberta government has closed down and fenced off a church that has been charged with refusing to follow COVID-19 health rules. Alberta Health Services, in a statement, says GraceLife church will remain closed until it shows it will comply with public-health measures meant to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hundreds gather to support Alberta church shut down for ignoring COVID-19 orders

SPRUCE GROVE, Alta. — Hundreds of people are gathered outside an Alberta… Continue reading

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces march during the Calgary Stampede parade in Calgary, Friday, July 8, 2016. The Canadian Armed Forces is developing contingency plans to keep COVID-19 from affecting its ability to defend the country and continue its missions overseas amid concerns potential adversaries could try to take advantage of the crisis. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian special forces supported major Iraqi military assault on ISIL last month

OTTAWA — Some Canadian soldiers supported a major military offensive last month… Continue reading

A woman pays her repects at a roadblock in Portapique, N.S. on Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The joint public inquiry in response to the April mass shooting in Nova Scotia has announced a mandate that includes a probe of the RCMP response as well as the role of gender-based violence in the tragedy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Creating permanent memorial to Nova Scotia mass shooting victims a delicate task

PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — Creating a memorial for those killed in Nova Scotia’s… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Erin O’Toole says ‘I didn’t hide who I was’ running for Conservative leader

OTTAWA — Erin O’Toole assured Conservative supporters that he never hid who… Continue reading

Calgary Flames' Johnny Gaudreau, second from left, celebrates his goal with teammates, from left to right, Matthew Tkachuk, Noah Hanifin and Rasmus Andersson, of Sweden, during second period NHL hockey action against the Edmonton Oilers, in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Jacob Markstrom earns shutout as Flames blank Oilers 5-0 in Battle of Alberta

CALGARY — It took Sean Monahan breaking out of his goal-scoring slump… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia's opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan's government, but they say Monday's throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province's economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s opposition parties acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented… Continue reading

A grizzly bear walks on a treadmill as Dr. Charles Robbins, right, offers treats as rewards at Washington State University's Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center in this undated handout photo. Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails like those commonly used by people, which can affect land management practices in wild areas, says an expert who has written a paper on their travel patterns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Anthony Carnahan *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Grizzly bears prefer walking on gentle slopes at a leisurely pace like humans: study

VANCOUVER — Grizzly bears seem to favour gently sloping or flat trails… Continue reading

FILE - In this July 27, 2020, file photo, nurse Kathe Olmstead prepares a shot that is part of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., in Binghamton, N.Y. Moderna said Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, its COVID-19 shot provides strong protection against the coronavirus that's surging in the U.S. and around the world. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)
The COVID-19 wasteland: searching for clues to the pandemic in the sewers

OTTAWA — When Ottawa Public Health officials are trying to decide whether… Continue reading

Most Read