ATLANTA -- Fans were barely in their seats for the decisive fifth game of the National League Division Series before the St. Louis Cardinals made history, becoming the first team to score 10 runs in the first inning of a postseason game en route to a 13-1 win.
"I've never seen that in the postseason," Cardinals veteran catcher Yadier Molina said after the blowout. "We put the ball in play. We saw the ball better."
The double-digit output against the Braves is a record for runs scored in an inning in a division series or winner-take-all game, and it ties the most runs scored in any inning in a playoff game.
Of the four times that teams have scored 10 runs in a postseason inning, the Cardinals are the first to do so without hitting any home runs.
Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz lasted just one-third of an inning before he was pulled with the bases loaded and the home team trailing 4-0.
"I knew we had him on the ropes," third baseman Matt Carpenter said. "I'm just trying to take a good at-bat and extend the inning. It felt like we blinked, and it was 10. It happened so fast."
Foltynewicz walked Carpenter with the bases loaded, the first of two walks in the inning with three Cardinals on base. Reliever Max Fried didn't fare much better than the starter, walking Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty to make it 5-0 before allowing a pair of two-run doubles to Dexter Fowler and Kolten Wong.
"One out, bases loaded, second time up in the inning, I'm just trying to put something in play to the outfield," Fowler said.
When it looked like the Braves finally had the third out on Marcell Ozuna's strikeout, the ball got away from catcher Brian McCann, who fell down trying to retrieve it, allowing Ozuna to reach and the 10th run to come home.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt couldn't believe what he was seeing in an elimination game.
"You play the game right, good things happen," Shildt said of the walks and contact in the inning. "You can't expect 10 runs, but we definitely didn't mind it."
The Braves missed a chance to get out of the inning after allowing one run. Freddie Freeman could not field a hard-hit ball that the first baseman could have turned into an inning-ending double play.
Asked after the game how much blame he thinks he should shoulder for the Braves' elimination, Freeman said "all of it."
"I didn't come through," said Freeman, who matched his hit total in the first four games by going 2-for-4 in Game 5. "I know everybody is going to say what they want to say, but it's on me."
Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson had his teammate's back, saying the Braves would not have reached the postseason without Freeman.
"Freddie Freeman is one of the best players in baseball," Donaldson said. "You never expect him to make a mistake. The guy has been on point all season long."
Foltynewicz was charged with seven runs on three hits and three walks. That came after he did not allow a run on three hits in seven innings in Game 2.
"The guy goes out and pitches seven shutout and looks unhittable, and the same guy can go out the next time he pitches and have a completely different outing," Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright said. "That is baseball at its finest right there."
The Cardinals had just five hits in the inning, marking the first time a team scored 10 runs with five or fewer hits since June 2011. It was the second time this season that a team scored 10 runs without hitting a homer; the Marlins scored 11 against the Brewers in June.
To save their season, the Braves would have had to break a 90-year-old record for the largest postseason comeback. In Game 4 of the 1929 World Series, the A's trailed the Cubs 8-0 heading to the bottom of the seventh before plating 10 runs in the inning to take the lead for good.
But St. Louis didn't let up, plating three more runs to set another postseason record for runs through three innings, and the Cardinals advanced to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2014. They will next face the Washington Nationals, who beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 in 10 innings in Game 5 of their series.
"It was never enough runs, man. Just keep eating, boys, keep going, which we did," Shildt said. "I love the fact we added on after that and the next couple of innings as well. As far as that goes, this is a very present group, just kept right there, pitch to pitch."