WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth homered to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning and give the Washington Nationals a 2-1 victory over St. Louis in Game 4 of a National League Division Series Thursday.
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 Lance Lynn before belting a long homer to left field on the 13th pitch of the at-bat. It sent the sellout crowd into a frenzy and kept the Nationals alive.
The Nationals finished the game with just three hits, but two of them were homers, and it was enough to keep them alive in the best-of-five series.
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.
Right-hander Kyle Lohse matched Detwiler and also fared better than in his recent outings against the Nationals. The right-hander allowed a total of 12 runs on 17 hits in 11 2/3 innings in a pair of September starts, 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 as the Nationals never got a runner into scoring position.
Washington got its only run off Lohse in the second 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 they 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 to eight in a row.
After that, Storen walked Kozma with two outs 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.
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 (Davey Johnson for Washington is 69 and Mike 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.