HOUSTON (AP) — Howie Kendrick sure has a knack for the dramatic.
At 36 — eight years removed from his only All-Star appearance — his go-ahead, two-run homer off Will Harris in the seventh inning lifted the Washington Nationals over the Houston Astros 6-2 Wednesday night in Game 7 for his team’s first World Series title.
Steady-handed and battle-tested, Kendrick came through at the biggest moments of the Nationals’ October run.
“He’s been one of the heart and souls of this team,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
Kendrick’s grand slam against Joe Kelly broke a 10th-inning tie in the decisive Game 5 of the Division Series, giving the Nationals a 7-3 win — just the second extra-inning slam in postseason history.
“The grand slam is still the biggest moment because we wouldn’t be here without that,” Kendrick said as teammates sprayed beer and bubbly on him in the boisterous visitors’ clubhouse. “So for me, that’s still got to be the top moment in my career, but this is truly special.”
Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles and four RBIs in a League Championship Series sweep of St. Louis, earning MVP.
He was 5 for 22 with one RBI in the World Series when he came to the plate in the seventh inning of Game 7. Anthony Rendon had just homered off Zack Greinke, cutting the Nationals’ deficit to 2-1.
Juan Soto walked on five pitches and Harris relieved. Kendrick swung over a curveball at the knees and drove a cutter on the low, outside corner down the right field line. George Springer sprinted toward the corner. Harris watched. The crowd was silenced, hoping the ball would be caught or curve foul.
Instead, it bounced off the foul pole screen.
Kendrick shouted his way around the bases and danced in the dugout with his younger teammates. For one last time this season,…