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Cardinals oust Braves 6-3, will face Nationals in a best-of-five

ATLANTA, Georgia--Reigning World Series champion St. Louis defeated Atlanta 6-3 Friday in a Major League Baseball wild-card playoff game, advancing to a best-of-five playoff series against Washington.

In a game halted when fans hurled trash onto the field to protest an umpire's call, Matt Holliday belted a solo home run to help power the Cardinals to victory in the first-ever playoff game between two non-division winners.

Major League Baseball expanded the playoffs to five teams in each league this season.

The Cardinals, who defeated Texas in last year's World Series, will play host to the Nationals in game one of their National League matchup on Sunday. It will be the first playoff game for a Washington baseball club since 1933.

With the Cardinals leading by the final margin, Atlanta appeared to have loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning when fielders botched a pop up fly ball by Andrelton Simmons and allowed it to drop without being caught.

Even though the ball landed well into short left field, an umpire invoked the infield fly rule, which meant that Simmons was out even though the runners had advanced to second and third base.

Fans began booing and hurled beer cans and other debris into the outfield in objection to the call, which drew an official protest of the game from the Braves during the 20-minute stoppage.

When play resumed, Atlanta pinch-hitter Brian McCann walked to load the bases but Michael Bourn struck out to end the inning and leave St. Louis ahead by three runs.

The Braves pushed the tying run to the plate again in the ninth inning but Dan Uggla grounded out to second base to end the game.

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 Orioles defeat Rangers to book series with Yankees 
St. Louis Cardinals' Rafael Furcal, center, leads teammates in the “Happy Flight” chant after a National League wildcard playoff game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Friday, Oct. 5.

(AP)

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