Nationals’ season comes crashing down

Washington gives up four in 9th, loses 9-7 to Cardinals

  • Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11), right, walks off the field as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win over the Washington Nationals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11), right, walks off the field as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win over the Washington Nationals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • A fan walks though centerfield plaza with an enlarged poster head of starting Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez before Gamee 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Thursday, October 11, 2012. (Craig Bisacre/The Washington Times)A fan walks though centerfield plaza with an enlarged poster head of starting Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez before Gamee 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Thursday, October 11, 2012. (Craig Bisacre/The Washington Times)
  • Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, throws out the first pitch before Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, throws out the first pitch before Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • Fans wave their rally towels before Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Thursday, October 11, 2012. (Craig Bisacre/The Washington Times)Fans wave their rally towels before Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Thursday, October 11, 2012. (Craig Bisacre/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) starts Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. Gonzalez would pitch five innings, giving up 3 earned runs.(Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) starts Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. Gonzalez would pitch five innings, giving up 3 earned runs.(Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34) rounds second before safely siding into third in the first inning in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Thursday, October 11, 2012. (Craig Bisacre/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34) rounds second before safely siding into third in the first inning in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Thursday, October 11, 2012. (Craig Bisacre/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20), left, celebrates as Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) hits a two run homer to bring Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34), right, home in the first inning to put the Washington Nationals up 3-0  against the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20), left, celebrates as Washington Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman (11) hits a two run homer to bring Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34), right, home in the first inning to put the Washington Nationals up 3-0 against the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning to put the Washington Nationals up 4-0  over the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34) hits a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning to put the Washington Nationals up 4-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals left fielder Michael Morse (38) its a two run homer to left center in the bottom of the third inning to put the Washington Nationals up 6-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals left fielder Michael Morse (38) its a two run homer to left center in the bottom of the third inning to put the Washington Nationals up 6-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) gets St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma (38) out at home on a fielders choice in at the top of the fifth inning as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) gets St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma (38) out at home on a fielders choice in at the top of the fifth inning as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) is pulled after the fifth inning after giving up 3 runs as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) is pulled after the fifth inning after giving up 3 runs as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Friday, October 12, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • The Nationals celebrate an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki that gave the team a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning that Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)The Nationals celebrate an RBI single by Kurt Suzuki that gave the team a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the 8th inning that Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) chases a two-run single by St. Louis Cardinals Daniel Descalso in the top of the 9th inning that tied the game 7-7 in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond (20) chases a two-run single by St. Louis CardinalsDaniel Descalso in the top of the 9th inning that tied the game 7-7 in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso (33) drives in two run after hitting a hard single to center to tie the game 7-7 as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso (33) drives in two run after hitting a hard single to center to tie the game 7-7 as the Washington Nationals play the St. Louis Cardinals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen (22) shows his frustration after giving up four runs in the top of the 9th to relinquish the lead to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen (22) shows his frustration after giving up four runs in the top of the 9th to relinquish the lead to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese (23) celebrates with Jon Jay (19) after scoring in the top of the 9th inning, giving his team a 9-7 lead in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese (23) celebrates with Jon Jay (19) after scoring in the top of the 9th inning, giving his team a 9-7 lead in Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals relief pitcher Drew Storen (22) sits on the bench in the bottom of the ninth inning after giving up four runs to put the St. Louis Cardinals up 9-7 over the Washington Nationals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals relief pitcher Drew Storen (22) sits on the bench in the bottom of the ninth inning after giving up four runs to put the St. Louis Cardinals up 9-7 over the Washington Nationals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso (33) celebrates after catching a pop up for the final out of the game as the Washington Nationals lose to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso (33) celebrates after catching a pop up for the final out of the game as the Washington Nationals lose to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) and Bryce Harper (34) head to the clubhouse after Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki (24) and Bryce Harper (34) head to the clubhouse after Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals fans watch as the Washington Nationals lose to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals fans watch as the Washington Nationals lose to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • (L to R) Paul Hefner, 16, and Isabel Hefner, 18, from Great Falls, Va., sit dejected in the stands after the Washington Nationals loss to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)(L to R) Paul Hefner, 16, and Isabel Hefner, 18, from Great Falls, Va., sit dejected in the stands after the Washington Nationals loss to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in Game 5 of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Friday, October 12, 2012. (Preston Keres/Special to The Washington Times)
  • Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34), left, and right fielder Jayson Werth (28), right, watch as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win over the Washington Nationals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)Washington Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper (34), left, and right fielder Jayson Werth (28), right, watch as the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win over the Washington Nationals in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)
  • A fan covers his face as the Washington Nationals lose to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)A fan covers his face as the Washington Nationals lose to the St. Louis Cardinals 9-7 in game five of the National League Division Series at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C., Saturday, October 13, 2012. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

“We talked about it during the game,” LaRoche said. “We said, ‘Pour it on.’ … We get through this game. I really like our chances. It’s not going to happen. It sucks.”

In a matter of minutes, their plans went from refocusing for the San Francisco Giants to packing up and planning their offseasons. Players scatter quickly when it ends and they said their goodbyes knowing it’d be their last time, all together, as this team.

They talked quietly. About the game and about life, really. They tried to figure out how they’d gotten here. They wanted to forget, but they knew they shouldn’t.

“We’ve got to remember how it feels,” said general manager Mike Rizzo, his demeanor steady after speaking with several players privately, offering a hug or a few words of encouragement. “We have to have a burning desire never for it to happen again.”

In the back corner, their oldest player looked around at a room filled with youth and a team with its core set to be together for several years. The lament was only what could’ve been, even as they recognized they may still be ascending. Their season was over.

“I’m just sad for these guys,” Mark DeRosa said. “I think that’s the frustrating thing. This team had enough talent and enough immaturity to maybe win the whole thing. That’s what I was excited about.”

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