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Cardinals score 10 runs in first, eliminate Braves 13-1

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By PAUL NEWBERRY

The Associated Press

ATLANTA — The St. Louis Cardinals turned the diamond into a giant pinball machine, dinging hits all over SunTrust Park.

By the time the Atlanta Braves finally got the third out, it was the most productive first inning in postseason history.

The Cardinals scored 10 runs their first time up and dealt Atlanta another playoff heartbreak, routing the Braves 13-1 in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Wednesday.

“That was crazy,” said Marcell Ozuna, one of five players who batted twice in the stunning outburst. “We got a good opportunity — and we took it.”

Before many fans had reached their seats, the Cardinals were already booking their plans for the NL Championship Series, where they will play the Washington Nationals in a best-of-seven set beginning Friday in St. Louis.

It will be St. Louis’ first NLCS trip since 2014.

“We know we can beat anyone at this point,” Hilo’s Kolten Wong said.

For the Braves, it might take a while to get over this debacle.

After pitching seven scoreless innings in a Game 2 win, Mike Foltynewicz retired only one hitter before getting yanked. First baseman Freddie Freeman booted a potential double-play ball that might have limited the damage. The Cardinals scored their final run of the inning on a strikeout — a wild pitch in the dirt that skipped away from catcher Brian McCann.

“We just strung together a bunch of great at-bats,” said Wong, who hit a two-run double in the first and scored on that wild pitch.

Tommy Edman and Dexter Fowler also had two-run doubles as St. Louis equaled the highest-scoring inning in postseason history. No team had ever scored 10 runs in the very first inning of a postseason game.

The Cardinals made several changes after their 10-spot — no need to worry about any more offense with budding ace Jack Flaherty on the mound, coming off one of the great second halves by a starting pitcher in baseball history.

Manager Mike Shildt let the 23-year-old Flaherty throw 104 pitches over six innings, surrendering four hits for the first postseason win of his blossoming career.

It was Atlanta’s 10th straight postseason round loss since its last victory 18 long years ago, tying the ignominious mark set by the Chicago Cubs between 1908 and 2003.

“It was more of a shock than anything,” said Josh Donaldson, whose homer provided the lone Atlanta run. “You don’t expect something like that to happen, especially with how well we played all season.”

After the game, McCann, 35, announced he’s retiring after a 15-year career that included two stints with his hometown Braves.