The Cardinals became the first team in Major League postseason history to come back from a six-run deficit and win a sudden-death game. No team had come back from more than a four-run deficit in a do-or-die contest.
The Cards' eight NL Championship Series appearances since 1995 are the most in the NL. The Braves have the second most with six appearances.
St. Louis, the defending World Series champions, has now won six consecutive postseason elimination games.
The Nationals' loss means the team with the best regular-season record will not win the World Series for the 12th time in the last 14 years. The 2009 Yankees were the last team to accomplish that feat.
With two doubles and a single, Carlos Beltran increased his career postseason slugging percentage to .817. That is the best in Major League history by an astounding .060.
Beltran is only the second player to reach base in each of his five plate appearances, not including errors, in a sudden-death game. The other was Babe Ruth in Game 7 of the 1926 World Series.
David Freese, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, the Cardinals' Nos. 6-8 hitters, combined to go 7-for-14 with a home run, four runs scored and five RBIs in Game 5.
Washington's Bryce Harper is just the second teenager to homer in a postseason game. The first was the Braves' Andruw Jones, who hit one in Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS and two more in Game 1 of that year's World Series. Harper turns 20 on Tuesday.
Drew Storen, the Nats' closer, matched career worsts by giving up four earned runs and issuing two walks in the ninth inning of Game 5.
The Cards are the first team to win a sudden-death game in which their starter surrendered six or more earned runs. Adam Wainwright, whose 2 1/3-inning performance was the shortest start of his Major League career, is just the third starter to give up six or more earned runs in fewer than three innings of a winner-take-all playoff game.
Before Friday's three-run first inning, Wainwright had not given up more than one run in any of his first 23 1/3 postseason innings. He did it twice in the first three innings in Game 5.
The announced attendance of 45,966 for Game 5 was the largest in the history of Nationals Park, which opened in 2008.
After going a combined 11-for-50 in Games 1-4, Jayson Werth, Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, the first three hitters in the Nationals' lineup, went 5-for-15 with two home runs, five runs scored and four RBIs in Game 5.
Gio Gonzalez's 11 walks over his two NLDS starts are the most by a pitcher in an LDS. The previous record was nine.
The Nats were 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position in Game 5 after hitting just 3-for-24 (.125) with runners in scoring position in the first four games.
Edwin Jackson's relief appearance in the seventh inning was actually his fourth career postseason appearance out of the bullpen. He pitched in relief three times for the Rays in the 2008 postseason, including two innings in a World Series Game 4 loss to the Phillies.
Jake Kaplan and Mike Fiammetta are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.