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Contreras leads rally as Cardinals beat Nationals in 11 innings

Willson Contreras St. Louis Cardinals Willson Contreras - The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Willson Contreras hit a tying homer in the ninth inning, Masyn Winn scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the 11th, and the St. Louis Cardinals rallied from an early 5-0 deficit to beat the Washington Nationals 7-6 on Friday night.

Contreras struck out with one out in the 11th and Winn on third against Dylan Floro (3-2), but the ball got past catcher Riley Adams, who was working his first inning behind the plate after Keibert Ruiz was lifted for a pinch-runner in the 10th.

In the ninth, Nationals closer Kyle Finnegan left a 2-2 fastball over the middle of the plate to Contreras, who sent it 407 feet over the wall in right-center to make it 5-all.

“Man, it’s good,” Contreras said. “We’re not giving up until the last out was made. That’s what we showed tonight. ... We started grinding the at-bats, having a better view. It was a little tough the first couple innings. But we did what we needed to do to win this game.”

Ryan Helsley (3-3) worked two innings and retired the side in the 11th on two popups and a grounder. Ruiz’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the 10th scored the automatic runner to make it 6-6 for Helsley’s third blown save of the season, ending a Cardinals record and major-league best streak of 31 straight converted save opportunities.

“I kind of laughed about it,” Helsley said. “Well, my streak is over, so I need to go out there and try to fight for the win for the team. Our bullpen is pretty taxed. I felt good and I was like, ‘I will take the ball if he will give it to me.’ He told me it’s yours. So, I went back out there and thankfully it turned out.”

Juan Yepez, a former Cardinal making his debut for Washington, lined into a double play to end the 10th.

Luis Garcia Jr. hit his third homer in his past two games for Washington, finishing 4-for-5 with two RBIs. His 10 homers this season are a career high.

Nolan Arenado went 4-for-5 with a double, three singles and two runs scored for St. Louis. Nolan Gorman had a pair of RBI singles, one in the top of the 10th that made it 6-5.

“This group isn’t fazed by a whole lot,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “They are very consistent in their demeanor, whether we’re up or down. They never feel like they are out of a game. And our bullpen does a really nice job of just keeping you there so the offense feels like they always have a shot to come back and tie it up and take the lead.”

Cardinals right-hander Sonny Gray, who had allowed only two runs over 11 innings in two previous starts at Washington, surrendered five runs in the first three frames. He lasted five innings, allowing eight hits and throwing 88 pitches.

Nationals rookie James Wood — who switched his jersey number from 50 to 29 before the game — singled in the fifth, but flied out to left field with a runner on second to end the ninth. He has reached base in all five games.

Jesse Winker had a pair of doubles with an RBI. CJ Abrams added a two-run double for Washington.

Patrick Corbin worked five innings for the Nationals, allowing three runs.

“We made some mistakes today,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “It wasn’t a very clean game. But we kept battling, kept battling. We just fell short. But to put ourselves in that situation where we had to play extra innings, it was tough.”


Cardinals utilityman Tommy Edman, who has yet to play this season, could begin a minor league rehab assignment on Tuesday night, Marmol said.

The Nationals recalled 1B Yepez from Triple-A Rochester and transferred RHP Josiah Gray (elbow/forearm flexor strain) to the 60-day injured list. Yepez played parts of the past two seasons with the Cardinals and hit .307 with three homers and 11 RBI for Rochester in June.


Cardinals RHP Lance Lynn (4-3, 3.59 ERA) faces Nationals LHP MacKenzie Gore (6-7, 3.47) on Saturday. Lynn allowed a walk-off homer to Washington’s Jayson Werth in Game 4 of the 2012 National League Division Series. Werth retired in 2018.