World Series Game 7: Nationals pull off comeback win for first championship

The Washington Nationals are World Series champions for the first time in franchise history.

Behind Howie Kendrick’s dramatic go-ahead home run and gusty pitching performances from Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, the Nationals rallied to defeat the Houston Astros 6-2 in the 40th Game 7 in World Series history.

[Championship gear: Get your Washington Nationals World Series title merchandise here]

When the celebration goes down, Kendrick will be given a hero’s welcome. After playing that role in Washington’s NLDS Game 5 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kendrick was at it again in Game 7 of the World Series, launching an opposite home run off the foul pole that will now serve as the most iconic image in Nationals history.

The heroic moment was made possible by Scherzer, who three days after missing his Game 5 start with neck spasms, battled with less than this best stuff for five innings. He limited Houston to two runs despite allowing 11 baserunners. Patrick Corbin, who took the loss in Game 4, got redemption as well, pitching three innings of scoreless relief to earn the win.

On the Astros side, it was all about missed opportunities.

Houston opened the scoring on Yuli Gurriel’s second-inning home run and then tacked on one more run on Carlos Correa’s RBI double in the fifth. During that time, the Astros also left nine runners on base. That left the door open for Washington to rally, and sure enough Washington rallied.

Anthony Rendon fired up the Nationals’ offense with a one-out home run in the seventh. After a walk to Juan Soto and a pitching change, Kendrick pulled off his elimination game magic again. Adam Eaton then sealed the win with a two-run single in the ninth inning.

With the victory, Washington survived its fifth straight elimination game during October, while also making this the first World Series where the road teams went 7-0.

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Houston Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna celebrates their teams win against the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the baseball World Series Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Houston Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna celebrates their teams win against the Washington Nationals in Game 3 of the baseball World Series Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Houston Astros' Kyle Tucker steals second as Washington Nationals' Asdrubal Cabrera can't handle the throw during the sixth inning of Game 3 of the baseball World Series Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, in Washington. Tucker advanced to third. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Houston Astros' Carlos Correa and Josh Reddick celebrate after Game 3 of the baseball World Series against the Washington Nationals Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Oct 25, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Houston Astros relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) and catcher Robinson Chirinos (28) celebrate after beating the Washington Nationals in game three of the 2019 World Series at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Astros' Roberto Osuna and Robinson Chirinos celebrate after Game 3 of the baseball World Series against the Washington Nationals Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 4-1. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: Members of the Washington Nationals celebrate after the Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 5-4 in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Washington Nationals' Juan Soto, Washington Nationals 2 and Victor Robles celebrate after Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 5-4 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 22: George Springer #4 of the Houston Astros is congratulated by first base coach Don Kelly #15 after hitting an RBI double in the eighth inning during Game 1 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Washington Nationals' Sean Doolittle celebrates after Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 5-4 to take a 1-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Washington Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton (2) attempts to catch a ball at the wall that falls for a double by Houston Astros right fielder George Springer (4) in the eighth inning during Game 1 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Washington Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton can't get a glove on a RBI-double by Houston Astros' George Springer during the eighth inning of Game 1 of the baseball World Series Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) touches home plate after a fourth inning home run to tie the game during Game 1 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (Photo by Jonathan Newton /The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 22: Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto (22) connects with a fourth inning home run during Game 1 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, October 22, 2019. (Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 22: The Washington Nationals celebrate their 5-4 win over the Houston Astros in Game One of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 22, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
The Washington Nationals celebrate after Game 2 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019, in Houston. The Nationals won 12-3 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 23: Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws a pitch in the third inning during Game 2 of the World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Alex Bregman #2 of the Houston Astros fields a ground ball but makes a throwing error in the seventh inning during Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros reacts against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Josh Reddick #22 of the Houston Astros is forced out at second base by Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Washington Nationals during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 23: Juan Soto #22, Michael A. Taylor #3 and Gerardo Parra #88 of the Washington Nationals celebrate their 12-3 win over the Houston Astros in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Asdrubal Cabrera #13 of the Washington Nationals is greeted by teammates Brian Dozier #9 and Adam Eaton #2 in the dugout after scoring on a two-run RBI single hit by Ryan Zimmerman #11 during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the 2019 World Series between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
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WHO MADE THE DIFFERENCE

• Howie Kendrick: Somehow, Kendrick provided a moment bigger than his extra-inning home run in Los Angeles. October is all about unexpected heroes. While Kendrick is an established and respected player, no one could have anticipated him having the two biggest hits in the postseason.

• Patrick Corbin: It was an up and down postseason for the Nationals big free-agent signing. He came through when manager Dave Martinez needed him most, pitching three scoreless innings of relief to bridge the gap to Daniel Hudson.

• Juan Soto: He’s 21 and he’s seemingly impossible to get out in clutch situations. Soto added to impressive postseason resume by reaching base three more times in Game 7. That included a walk ahead of Kendrick’s home run and a two-out run-scoring single in the eighth inning. According to MLB Stats on Twitter, Soto's 13 postseason RBI are the most by a player before turning 22, passing Miguel Cabrera. As for the World Series:

MUST-SEE MOMENT

Howie Kendrick is all about the big moments in October.

WHAT THEY'LL BE TALKING ABOUT

The Zack Greinke decision: Did Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch make the right call removing Greinke during the seventh inning? Before the Rendon home run, Greinke had looked untouchable. The walk to Soto may have been a sign he was fading, but with the move to Will Harris backfiring on the Kendrick home run, it’s a moment that will be second guessed. As will the decision to never utilize Gerrit Cole in a do-or-die situation.

Where does this World Series rank all-time?: Does a series going seven games automatically make it a classic? The consensus coming into this Game 7 was that it does not. Though the series built nicely with more drama being added in each of the final three games, the early portion was void of much excitement. The low viewership numbers indicate that casual fans were never really hooked, so despite the strong finish it’s not a World Series that’s likely to have left a long-lasting impression on a national scale. Not that Nationals fans’ do or should care about that.

WHAT'S NEXT

It's celebration time in Washington D.C.

The 2019 baseball season is officially over. But don't fret, baseball fans. Preparations for the 2020 season will begin in earnest. Stick with us at Yahoo Sports MLB all offseason for the latest news and analysis.

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