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Nationals win World Series with 6-2 Game 7 win over Astros

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

Washington defeated the Houston Astros 6-2 in Wednesday's Game 7 at Minute Maid Park. The road team won every single game of the Fall Classic, and Howie Kendrick helped ensure the trend continued with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning with his team trailing by one.

As for the Astros, they fell just short of a second championship in three years. Reaching the World Series multiple times in such a short time frame is quite an accomplishment, but the players surely aren't thinking about moral victories after losing all four games at home against the Nationals.

Nationals fans will relive the seventh inning of Wednesday's game for the rest of their lives.

The visitors managed a single hit and no runs in the first six frames off Zack Greinke before Anthony Rendon cut a 2-0 deficit in half with a solo blast in the seventh. It was another memorable moment for the superstar who tallied five RBI in Game 6, two of which came on a monster home run to blow the game open after his team was on the wrong end of a controversial call.

Even that would have given Washington momentum heading into the final two innings, but Juan Soto followed by working a walk and driving Greinke out of the game. Kendrick, who already earned hero status as the National League Championship Series MVP, then launched the biggest hit of his life with a two-run homer off the right-field foul pole to put the Nationals ahead for good.

Kendrick and Rendon wouldn't have even been in position to stun the crowd if Max Scherzer didn't turn in the grittiest performance of his career.

The three-time Cy Young winner was scratched from Sunday's Game 5 start because of spasms in his trapezius muscle and told reporters he couldn't even lift his arm at the time. Ken Rosenthal revealed on the Fox broadcast Scherzer had a cortisone shot and two treatments per day since Monday just to make his start.

He appeared far from 100 percent but still kept his team within striking distance by allowing just a solo homer to Yuli Gurriel in the second and an RBI single to Carlos Correa in the fifth.

Scherzer escaped jams with two runners on in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, limiting the damage and helping his team move to 6-0 in these playoffs when he appears in a game.

Patrick Corbin deserves plenty of credit for throwing three shutout innings of relief before Daniel Hudson finished the win, but the playoff-long showings from Scherzer, Rendon and Kendrick will forever be remembered in Nationals lore.

The only thing missing from Greinke's illustrious resume is a World Series championship, and he pitched well enough to change that Wednesday.

He has a Cy Young, two ERA titles, six All-Star nods, five Gold Gloves and even a Silver Slugger and was brilliant once again in his 16th season with a 2.93 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 187 strikeouts in 208.2 innings. While he struggled with consistency in his first four starts in these playoffs, he was up to the task in Game 7.

Greinke worked his way through the Nationals with incredible efficiency, never allowing more than a single baserunner at once and keeping his pitch count down in the process. It was nothing but low-stress innings until he gave up the solo homer to Rendon and walked Soto in the seventh.

He still left with the lead, but Will Harris gave up the decisive drive to Kendrick on the first batter he faced.

It wasn't just Harris who let Greinke down. Roberto Osuna and Joe Smith allowed an insurance runs in the eighth and ninth, and the offense had every opportunity to break the game open in the early frames against a laboring Scherzer but couldn't.

Manager AJ Hinch also shoulders some of the responsibility for not only taking Greinke out after just 80 pitches but also going to Harris with the World Series hanging in the balance instead of Gerrit Cole. Cole warmed up multiple times, has a sparkling 1.72 ERA in these playoffs and hasn't backed down from a single critical moment.

Saving Greinke's masterpiece would have been the biggest moment of all.

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