HOUSTON — Almost out of contention in May, champs in October.
Howie Kendrick, Anthony Rendon and the Washington Nationals completed their amazing comeback journey — fittingly with one last late rally on the road.
In Game 7 of the World Series, no less.
Kendrick and Rendon homered in the seventh inning as the Nationals overcame a two-run deficit, rocking the Houston Astros, 6-2, Wednesday night to win the first title in franchise history.
With all eyes on Max Scherzer and his remarkable recovery after a painkilling injection, these Nationals truly embraced their shot in the first Series when the road team won every game.
Even more against the odds: Juan Soto and Washington rallied from behind to win five elimination games this postseason, an unprecedented feat.
‘‘What a story,’’ said Ryan Zimmerman, the Nationals’ first draft pick back in 2005.
‘‘I hope D.C.’s ready for us to come home!’’
World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, new lefty Patrick Corbin and the Nats brought the first World Series championship to the nation’s capital since ol’ Walter Johnson delivered the crown for the Senators in 1924.
‘‘Resilient, relentless bunch of guys,’’ manager Dave Martinez said. ‘‘They fought all year long.’’
Having lost star slugger Bryce Harper to free agency and beset by bullpen woes, Washington plummeted to 19-31 in late May. It got so bad there was talk around town the Nationals might fire Martinez and trade away Scherzer.
Instead, they stuck with the mantra that sprung up on T-shirts — Stay In The Fight. And months later they finished it.
For the 43,326 revved-up fans at Minute Maid Park, it was a combination of shock and disappointment. So close to seeing the Astros win their second crown in three years, they watched their chance suddenly vanish as Houston fell apart.
Washington kept pulling away after taking the lead, with Adam Eaton’s two-run single in the ninth capping the scoring.
Zack Greinke was in complete control until Rendon — a Houston prep and college star — hit a home run that cut Houston’s lead to 2-1.
When Soto followed with a one-out walk, manager AJ Hinch decided to make a move. He’d had ace starter Gerrit Cole warming up in the bullpen earlier, but this call was for Will Harris.
Kendrick connected on the second pitch, slicing a drive that hit the screen attached to the right field foul pole. Just like that, everything had changed for the team in orange that led the majors in wins, and the ballpark fell silent.
For Kendrick, another timely blow. At 36, playing on the oldest team in the majors, the journeyman earned the MVP award for the NL Championship Series against St. Louis after hitting the winning grand slam in the 10th inning of the deciding Game 5 of the Division Series at Dodger Stadium.
Then again, this was nothing new for the Nationals.
Washington rallied in the eighth to beat Milwaukee in the wild-card game and took the last two to beat Los Angeles in the NLDS, setting up a sweep of the Cardinals in the NLCS.
With Greinke and Scherzer grunting on every pitch, Game 7 was a classic duel early.
Yuli Gurriel put the Astros ahead with a home run in the second and Carlos Correa added an RBI single off Scherzer that made it 2-0 in the fifth.
Scherzer was done after the fifth, but he had done his job to keep it close. Only a few days earlier, he had been unable to lift his right arm because of nerve irritation near his neck.
Daniel Hudson closed it out, as Houston paid for stranding so many runners on base all game. Hudson struck out Michael Brantley for the last out, then threw his glove to start the celebration.