Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez melted down in the ninth inning of Game 3 of the NLDS against the Braves, and before he recorded three outs he’d turned a one-run St. Louis lead into a 3-1 deficit. A clutch two-out double from Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the ninth, and soon thereafter Adam Duvall notched a two-RBI single to give Atlanta its first lead of the game.
Braves closer Mark Melancon made that 3-1 margin stand up in the bottom of the ninth (box score) — with an assist from Freddie Freeman’s acrobatic stretch to ensure a 6-3 putout of leadoff hitter Kolten Wong — and the Braves’ stirring comeback gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
Forgotten in the ninth-inning dramatics was the unlikely gem twirled by 38-year-old Cardinals right-hander Adam Wainwright, who shut out the Braves for 7 2/3 innings. Wainwright’s counterpart, Mike Soroka, was similarly excellent, as he allowed one run (on a sac fly) in seven innings while striking out seven against zero walks. At one point, Soroka retired 17 in a row.
The story, though, was Martinez, who in that fated ninth allowed two doubles and a single with an intentional walk of Brian McCann mixed in among the scoring. Now the Cardinals are faced with staving off elimination in Game 4 on Monday, which will be back at Busch Stadium.