WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington is heading to the World Series for the first time in 86 years after the wild-card Nationals used a seven-run first inning and Patrick Corbin’s 12-strikeout performance to hold on and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 Tuesday night for a sweep of the NL Championship Series.

Quite a stunning turnaround for the Nationals, who went from 19-31 in May — when there was talk of firing manager Dave Martinez and trading away players — to the Fall Classic in October. They have won 16 of their last 18 games.

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Corbin, a $140 million lefty, became the first pitcher to strike out 10 in the first four innings of a postseason game and earned the win. Washington put up seven runs in the first, all charged to rookie Dakota Hudson, who lasted all of 15 pitches.

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Washington gets plenty of time to rest and set up its rotation before beginning the World Series in a week against the Houston Astros or New York Yankees. Houston leads the best-of-seven AL Championship Series 2-1 after winning Game 3 at New York 4-1 Tuesday.

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