NLDS Game 4: Cardinals walk-off win gives them new life against Braves

The St. Louis Cardinals survive to play another day — and, as is so often the case, they have Yadi to thank for it.

The Cardinals pulled off a 5-4 walk-off win in Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves to stay alive after they looked to be on the brink of elimination just two innings earlier.

Star catcher Yadier Molina’s 10th inning sac fly brought home Kolten Wong, who started the inning with a ground-rule double off Braves pitcher Julio Teheran. This was all set up by an eighth-inning single by Molina, which found just enough daylight to tie the game. Leave it to Yadi —he managed to breathe life back into a Cardinals team that was four outs away from starting their winter and then delivered the decisive blow in extra innings.

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This series, which has been nothing but back-and-forth lead changes and exciting comebacks, now heads to a do-or-die Game 5 in Atlanta. If Game 4 was any indication, you can expect another tug-of-war for a chance to play in the NLCS against either the Dodgers or Nationals.

Dallas Keuchel started the game for Atlanta, but the Cardinals hit him early, including back-to-back homers by Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna in the first inning. Ozuna hit another in the fourth inning to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead. The relentless Atlanta offense didn’t give up. The Braves scored on a Matt Carpenter error in the fifth and went ahead 4-3 after a two-run homer by Ozzie Albies.

The Braves’ bullpen was cruising until the eighth, which is when Goldschmidt doubled off Greene. Ozuna struck out, but Molina came up and golfed a single just barely over Freddie Freeman’s head and into right field to bring Goldschmidt home to tie the game.

The Braves threatened in their half of the ninth inning when Ronald Acuña Jr. blasted a lead-off double, but closer Carlos Martinez was able to compose himself and get three outs without a run scoring.

Yadier Molina celebrates his game-winning RBI against the Braves in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Yadier Molina celebrates his game-winning RBI against the Braves in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE

Marcell Ozuna and Paul Goldschmidt: They kept the Cardinals in this game throughout, starting with the back-to-back homers in the first, then Ozuna’s second homer in the fourth. Goldschmidt’s double in the eighth inning kept the scoreboard changing when the Cardinals needed it most.

Carlos Martinez: As much as he’s struggled in this series, the Cardinals closer pulled it together when he needed to. After allowing a lead-off double to his nemesis Acuña, Martinez buckled down and kept the Braves from going ahead in the ninth. Given his previous performances in this series, it was commendable.

Kolten Wong: He hadn’t had the best series thus far. After getting two hits in Game 1, Wong was hitless in Games 2 and 3, then was 0-for-4 in this one until the 10th inning. He picked the perfect time to deliver.

MUST-SEE MOMENT

What else but Yadi’s walk-off?

WHAT THEY'LL BE TALKING ABOUT

The postseason clutch genes of Molina. While it might seem impossible for Cardinals fans to love their star catcher any more than they already do, this might test that theory. Molina’s eighth-inning clutch hit came after the Braves had struck out Marcell Ozuna, the most potent bat in the Cardinals lineup in Game 4. His walk-off wasn’t a homer or a liner into the gap, but it was enough to get the job done, which is what Yadi always does.

WHAT'S NEXT

We’re headed to a Game 5, and given what we’ve seen in this series so far, it’s bound to be a thriller. The Cardinals and Braves will meet again in Atlanta on Wednesday with a trip to the NLCS on the line. First pitch is scheduled for 5:02 p.m. ET.

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Mike Oz is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @mikeoz

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