The Washington Nationals celebrate after Game 7 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 6-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Nationals beat Astros 6-2 in Game 7 for first World Series title

Washington earned all four of its wins on the road

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, who was named series MVP, 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.

READ MORE: Trump draws boos when introduced to crowd at World Series

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.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

MLB

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

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Castlegar doctor’s offices remain open for phone, video and in-person appointments

Doctors concerned people may be neglecting health concerns for fear of catching the COVID-19

BRAND NAMES: Cominco, West Kootenay Power, Granby

Consolidated Mining and Smelting (CM&S) became Cominco, then Teck-Cominco, then Teck

Castlegar hospice director says COVID-19 measures make serving the dying heartbreaking

Social distancing brings big challenges to offering support

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read