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June 29, 2017

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Yankees prevail, Cardinals beat Nats

NEW YORK--The New York Yankees edged the Baltimore Orioles and the St. Louis Cardinals pulled off a stunning final-out comeback to beat the Washington Nationals on Friday, as both teams booked their place in the final four of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

New York downed Baltimore 3-1, thanks in part to a contentious call which denied the Orioles a home run that would have tied the game in the sixth inning.

The Yankees finally prevailed in a season-long fight with their American League East division rivals, with New York's win on Friday giving it 12 wins and 11 losses against the Orioles this season.

New York progressed to an AL Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers, starting on Saturday, while the Orioles were left to reflect on a bitter end to a renaissance season.

In Washington, the Nationals led 7-5 entering the ninth inning, with the Cardinals down to their final out, but scored four runs to turn the game on its head and win 9-7, putting the reigning World Series champions through to the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.

St. Louis erased an early six-run deficit to get back to 6-5, before the Nationals added what seemed an insurance run in the eighth to make it 7-5.

In the top of the ninth, the Cardinals were down to their final out when Daniel Descalso produced a tying two-run single, then Pete Kozma stunned the Nationals record crowd with another two-run hit.

It was the largest comeback ever in a winner-take-all postseason game, according to STATS LLC. No other club in this sort of ultimate pressure situation had come back from more than four down.

"We knew we had a lot of game left after they scored six. Nobody went up there trying to hit a six-run homer," said Descalso. "We needed to scratch and claw and get ourselves back in the game."

St. Louis has now won six straight games when facing elimination in playoffs, including the final two games of last year's World Series.

"They believe in themselves. They believe in each other," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's been this style of team all season long. They just don't quit, and that just says a lot about their character."

Washington, which boasted the best record in the majors during the regular season, had scored three runs on just seven pitches in a brilliant start to the game, and were 6-0 up inside three innings, ending the night prematurely for St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright.

The Cardinals chipped away, chipped away. One run in the fourth, a pair in the fifth, another in the seventh, then a homer in the eighth to get back to 6-5, setting the stage for the final inning theatrics.

In New York, C.C. Sabathia in pitching a complete game for the Yankees. It was his first career complete game and the first for the pinstripes since Roger Clemens in 2000.

Raul Ibanez hit a go-ahead single in the fifth inning off Jason Hammel and Ichiro Suzuki added an RBI double in the sixth.

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