Without fanfare, popular Braves catcher Brian McCann announces retirement

NLDS Expert Picks: Cardinals-Braves & Nats-Dodgers Betting Predictions for Game 5

NLDS Expert Picks: Cardinals-Braves & Nats-Dodgers Betting Predictions for Game 5

The St. Louis Cardinals erupted for 10 runs in the first inning and eliminated the Atlanta Braves with a 13-1 rout in Game 5 of their NL Division Series on Wednesday in Atlanta. Louis' first trip to the NLCS since 2014.

After a second straight NL East title, the Braves head into the offseason with a solid nucleus of young talent but the burden of another postseason flop.

St. Louis sent 14 batters to the plate before Braves relief pitcher Max Fried finally ended the inning."It's hard to score 10 runs in an inning without hitting a home run", mused Cardinals manager Mike Shildt.

The 13-1 shellacking capped a wild series that swung back and forth, with St. Louis taking Game 1 on the road, before falling behind 2-1. Five batters reached on hits, four by walks, one by error and another on a botched strikeout.

Needless to say, the Braves picked a awful time to have the worst inning in the franchise's last 94 years. There was no need to worry about any more offense with Jack Flaherty on the mound, coming off one of the great second halves by a starting pitcher in baseball history.

The Dodgers were six outs away from moving on after Walker Buehler pitched 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball and ace Clayton Kershaw got the last out in the seventh.

The best-of-seven series begins Friday night at Busch Stadium. After Paul DeJong was handed an intentional walk to re-load the bases, Atlanta manager Brian Snitker emerged from the dugout to call in 17-game victor Max Fried from the bullpen.

St. Louis leadoff man Dexter Fowler batted three times before the bottom of Atlanta's order got its first looks, and the Cardinals made several changes after their 10-spot in what might've been the first set of defensive changes ever made by a team before its opponent had batted. The first inning wouldn't have been so damaging though without Edman delivering a crushing two-run double.

McCann started in every game of the series but hit only. 188. Flaherty, who had allowed just 10 earned run since the All-Star break, handled the task with the same focus and determination that helped him become one of MLB's breakout stars.

"You play the game right, good things happen", Shildt said of the walks and contact in the inning. His first-inning error, which opened the floodgates for St. Louis in Game 5, will only add fuel to that fire. Freddie Freeman could not field a hard-hit ball that the first baseman could have turned into an inning-ending double play. It also equaled the most runs scored in any inning in a playoff game.

There's been some big bettors backing the Dodgers, who are a very popular favorite against the Nationals in Game 5.

Former Dodger Howie Kendrick launched a grand slam off reliever Joe Kelly with nobody out in the 10th inning to send the Nats to a 7-3 triumph at Los Angeles.

Max Muncy and Kike Hernandez homered off Stephen Strasburg to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead through two innings before the Nationals rallied.