Subscribe for 99¢
St. Louis Cardinals vs Atlanta Braves, Game 5 NLDS in St. Louis

Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty jogs to first after drawing a walk with the bases loaded, forcing in Matt Carpenter in the first inning of Game 5 of a National League Division Series against the Braves at SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019. (David Carson, dcarson@post-dispatch.com)

ATLANTA — Fifty-one years ago to the day, the Cardinals were on the receiving part of history. The Detroit Tigers smacked them with a record-tying 10 runs in the third inning of World Series Game 6 in St. Louis, and the Cardinals never recovered.

They lost that game 13-1 and then dropped Game 7 the next day.

On Wednesday, as afternoon turned into night — all in the same inning — the Cardinals made history again with a 10-run frame. This time, they were on the right side of it as they pummeled the Atlanta Braves for 10 runs in the first inning — a record for a first inning in any postseason game — and won going away. By a 13-1 score, of course.

The Cardinals had qualified for 13 National League Championship Series before this year. And this marked the fourth time Cardinals have ended Braves’ season in Atlanta in postseason play. They swept the Braves in three games in the NLCS in 1982 and again in 2000. They won MLB’s first wild-card game, here in 2012.

The Braves’ only retaliation came in 1996, when they walloped the Cardinals 15-0 in Game 7 of the NLCS — scoring six runs in the first inning. Somewhere Donovan Osborne is smiling.

Moreover, this marks the third stadium in which the Cardinals have eliminated the Braves — Fulton County Stadium (1982), Turner Field (2000 and 2012) and SunTrust Park.

Atlanta hasn’t won a playoff series in 18 years. Since then, the Braves have lost 10 consecutive playoff rounds.

“It wasn’t how we drew it up, I know that,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “That thing just kept rolling and we couldn’t stop it. You talk about scenarios in the game. You don’t cover that one.”

But you hardly could call it a pummeling. In this day of home run-or-nothing baseball, a 12-strikeout, no-homer game would suggest a loss for the club that had a lot of the former and none of the latter. The Cardinals had 10 runs in an inning without a home run, marking the first time that had happened in postseason play.

“It’s hard to score 10 runs in an inning with hitting a home run,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said.

Kolten Wong didn’t figure the inning would turn out the way it did. He sacrificed, on his own, he admitted, after a leadoff walk by Dexter Fowler.

“I was just trying to get Dex in scoring position,” Wong said. “When you have guys coming up like (Paul) Goldschmidt and (Marcell) Ozuna, who are hitting four-something or five-something, you get him in scoring position and you let those dudes do their work.”

But Fowler said, “He surprised me. I was like, ‘Oh, he’s gonna bunt? OK . . .’

The most runs the Cardinals had scored in any previous playoff inning was nine, including seven against St. Louisan Jerry Reuss, which they tallied in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in 1985. That night wasn’t exactly a howling success, as catalyst Vince Coleman was run over by a runaway tarpaulin before the game and taken away howling in pain. He would not play again in the postseason and the Cardinals lost the World Series to Kansas City in seven games.

The Cardinals’ rout is the fourth time in postseason history that the victorious team in a winner-take-all game has won by 10 or more runs. The Cardinals have been involved in all of them. They lost the 15-0 game to Atlanta in 1996 and 11-0 to the Royals in the final of the 1985 World Series. They beat the Tigers 11-0 in Game 7 of the 1934 World Series in Detroit.

But there was one highlight Wednesday for the Braves.

Josh Donaldson homered, over the center-field wall, in the fourth inning for the Braves’ only run off Jack Flaherty.

“We won this inning,” chortled one Braves fan.

The Cardinals are 13-6 in postseason play against the Braves, who were only four outs from a series victory on Monday in St. Louis when Yadier Molina tied the game with a two-out single, with Molina delivering the game-winning sacrifice fly in the 10th.

“Your goal is to get in the playoffs because anything can happen after that,” Snitker said. “I guess we saw that. There’s not a lot to say. It’s pretty evident what went on.”

There was one more historical note. Wednesday was the 75th anniversary of the Cardinals winning the 1944 World Series in the sixth game. Their opponents that day were the St. Louis Browns, who would be playing their last postseason game.

The Browns were hapless in later years, but not on Oct. 9, 1944, when they lost a well contested 3-1 game.

The Braves no doubt wish they could have put on a similar challenge Wednesday against the Cardinals.

Out of respect for Cardinals pitcher Ryan Helsley, a Cherokee, the Atlanta club did not issue its normal foam tomahawk to any fan who showed up.

Perhaps that different mood darkened everything for the Braves. But keep in mind the fans had been tomahawk chopping since the NLCS in 2001. With no October success, on Oct. 9 or any other date.

Keep up with the latest Cardinals coverage from our award-winning team of reporters and columnists.