WASHINGTON -- Thirteen proved to be a very lucky number for Jayson Werth and the Washington Nationals Thursday night.
Werth homered on the 13th pitch of his dramatic at-bat against Lance Lynn to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning and give the Nationals a thrilling 2-1 victory over St. Louis in Game 4 of a National League Division Series.
The series is tied at two games apiece, and Washington forced a decisive Game 5 that will be played Friday at 8:37 p.m. Eastern time. The winner of that will go on to face San Francisco in the National League Championship Series. The Giants won Game 5 of their series with Cincinnati, also on Thursday.
Werth battled Lynn before belting a long homer to left field, sending the sellout crowd into a frenzy and keeping the Nationals alive for another day.
"We've faced (Lynn) a lot over September and in the series," Werth said. "So I knew what he had. But I think he threw a hook 2-2 to get to 3-2, and I figured from then I wasn't going to get off the heater, fouled a couple more off and finally got one to hit."
Lynn started with two strikes to put Werth in a quick hole. After that, Werth took two balls before fouling off five straight pitches.
Werth then took ball three and fouled off one more before sending a Lynn fastball into the Washington bullpen in left field.
"That's the way that game should have ended -- Jayson Werth hitting a home run," Washington manager Davey Johnson said. "It was unbelievable, great effort on his part."
The Nationals finished the game with just three hits, but two of them were homers, and it was enough to keep them in contention in the best-of-five series. Washington never got a man in scoring position in the game and left only two on base.
Two homers and a single, that was all the Nationals could drum up on offense in a game dominated by the pitchers. St. Louis had more chances, stranding eight, but the Cardinals couldn't come through at the right time.
Left-hander Ross Detwiler gave Washington its best starting pitching effort of this series, something the Nationals needed badly. He held St. Louis to one unearned run on three hits in six innings.
"If we lose this game, there's no tomorrow," Detwiler said. "The defense, everybody showed up. You just try to keep the game close. You just try to keep the game tight."
Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse matched Detwiler and also fared better than in his recent outings against the Nationals. The right-hander had allowed 12 runs on 17 hits in 11 2/3 innings in a pair of September starts against Washington, even though he got no-decisions in both.
But this time Lohse allowed just one run on two hits in seven innings. He retired nine in a row at one point.
"He's been a big-game pitcher, and he's been a great leader with a few other guys on our team as far as our staff goes," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "We knew he was going to give us a chance. That's all we can ask, and he did that today."
Washington got its only run off Lohse in the second inning when Adam LaRoche led off with a homer to center. LaRoche battled Lohse through a nine-pitch at-bat, crushing a 3-2 sinker to give the Nats an early lead.
But St. Louis answered -- with some help from the Nationals -- in the top of the third. Pete Kozma drew a lead-off walk and went to second on Lohse's sacrifice. Kozma made it to third when shortstop Ian Desmond booted a Jon Jay grounder and scored on a Carlos Beltran sacrifice fly.
The Nationals turned it over to their bullpen after Detwiler's six-inning effort, and the relievers were brilliant. Jordan Zimmermann came on for Washington in the seventh and bounced back from a poor start in Game 2 to strike out the side, needing only 12 pitches to do so.
Tyler Clippard also struck out the side when he came on in the eighth for the Nationals. The only difference was that he walked one batter.
Drew Storen then struck out the first two in the ninth to extend the string of strikeouts to eight in a row.
"I felt like the momentum was switching and coming to our side," Zimmermann said.
Storen walked Kozma with two outs in the ninth before Desmond raced over to the left-field foul line to catch a blooper from pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter. Kozma would have scored from first if Desmond hadn't made the catch.
Storen got the win when Werth homered.
The Cardinals will have about 24 hours to recover from this heart-breaking loss.
"We've had a large amount of heart-breakers this year, and I think that's really been used to develop the character of this team and the resiliency," Matheny said. "So it's a tough one, but [we're] still alive to play another game."
NOTES: The LaRoche home run in the second inning was his second of this series. He also got a home run in the Game 2 loss in St. Louis on Monday. This homer was the fourth postseason blast of his career...The Elias Sports Bureau said that the age difference between the two managers in this series (Johnson for Washington is 69 and Matheny of St. Louis is 42) is the largest ever in a postseason series. Johnson went 1-for-4 with a single for Baltimore on the day Matheny was born, Sept. 22, 1970...Zimmermann's relief appearance in this game was the first of his career...Allen Craig was the lone Cardinal who had more than one hit in the game -- he singled twice, once in the fourth and once in the sixth. However, he couldn't score either time.