ST. LOUIS (AP) — 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 on Monday.
"I like those moments," Molina said.
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 ground-rule 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. The 37-year-old catcher discarded his batting helmet as the rest of the Cardinals poured onto the field.
"I lost it right there," Molina said. "I think I tossed the bat in the bullpen."
Molina also made it 4-all with a two-out single in the eighth that went just off the top of the glove of a leaping Freeman.
Albies homered and drove in three runs for Atlanta, and Ronald 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.
Morton delivers again for Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Charlie Morton to the rescue, again.
Kevin Kiermaier hit a go-ahead, three-run homer as Tampa Bay teed off on Zack Greinke, and the Rays got another clutch playoff performance from Morton to beat the Houston Astros 10-3 on Monday and cut their AL Division Series deficit to 2-1.
Facing the team he helped win the World Series two years ago, Morton allowed one run and three hits while striking out nine over five innings. The 35-year-old right-hander is 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA in four career elimination starts, including last week's wild-card win at Oakland.
Astros manager AJ Hinch announced after the game that Houston will start Justin Verlander on three days of rest in Game 4 of the best-of-five matchup at Tropicana Field on Tuesday. Tampa Bay will use Diego Castillo as an opener.
"He's one of the best pitchers in the world. No more complicated than that," Hinch said of Verlander. "He's ready, and it's his game."
Kiermaier got the wild-card Rays going with his long home run in the second inning. Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe added solo shots off Greinke, who has never won in Tampa Bay, and Willy Adames added a solo blast against Wade Miley in the sixth.
L.A. bullpen can't close out series
WASHINGTON - When Dave Roberts took the ball out of Rich Hill's hands, he turned it over to a bullpen full of question marks.
The Los Angeles manager turned to starter Kenta Maeda for a successful inning-plus of relief. Then the Dodgers came apart.
Hill couldn't make it out of the third inning, and a revolving assortment of relievers allowed five runs in a 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 4 Monday that tied the NL Division Series at 2-2.
Pedro Báez gave up a three-run home run to Ryan Zimmerman in the fifth that busted open the game, and his teammates couldn't crack Nationals ace Max Scherzer to close out the series.
Between the third and fifth innings, Dodger pitchers allowed more runs than they had in any of the first three games of the series. Stripling then had a wild pitch that helped the Nationals tack on another run in the sixth, and the Dodgers came up empty after loading the bases with one out in the seventh.
DIVISION SERIESBest of five
Tampa Bay 10, Houston 3
Astros lead series 2-1
St. Louis 5, Atlanta 4, 10 innings
Series tied 2-2
Washington 6, Los Angeles 1
Series tied 2-2
New York 5, Minnesota 1
Yankees win series 3-0
Houston (Verlander) at Tampa Bay (Castillo), 3:15 p.m. (FS1)