PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Justin Verlander overcame an early jerk to claim the World Series win that had long eluded him, rookie Jeremy Peña hit a home run and the Houston Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 on Thursday night to post Driving home a 3:2 lead.
Buoyed by late defensive jewels from Trey Mancini and Chas McCormick, the Astros edged to the brink of their second championship — the other being a scandal-ridden title in 2017. You can finish it Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.
Houston went ahead by just four pitches against Noah Syndergaard in Peña’s run-scoring single. Then Philly’s Kyle Schwarber homed to lead the bottom half and listened for the five-run lead Verlander squandered in Houston’s 6-5 10-inning loss.
Peña had three hits, including an RBI single in the first and a single in the eighth inning that set up Yordan Alvarez’s run-scoring groundout. He made a jumping catch at the shortstop to thwart the Phillies in the third, then reclaimed the lead an inning later with his fourth postseason homer. He’s the first rookie shortstop to ever go deep into the Fall Classic.
After Jean Segura’s one-off RBI single against Rafael Montero in eighth, Ryan Pressly escaped a first and third jam by defeating Brandon Marsh and Schwarber with a nearly 100 mph one-hopper that was caught by Mancini over first base .
Mancini, the backup first baseman, scored in the top half after 2021 Gold Glove winner Yuli Gurriel collided during a rundown and injured his right knee. Playing on defense for the first time since the regular-season finals, he ran into bad territory and reached back with his left foot to touch the pouch on Schwarber’s rib.
McCormick helped Pressly finish a five-out save. The midfielder ran 91 feet to make a jumping backhand catch against the chain link fence in front of the scoreboard at right center JT Realmuto for the second of nine.
“I thought he made it,” McCormick said.
After Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch, Nick Castellanos jumped to the shortstop, ending a 3 hour, 57 minute thriller.
From the previous series, which was tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 has won 31 of 47 times.
Verlander is one of only five Astros left from the team that was caught using video stealing signs in 17. He was 0-6 with an unseemly 6.07 ERA in eight straight starts from his rookie season with Detroit in 2006, a blot on the career of the 244-game winner, who is likely to win his third Cy Young Award this season .
With an extra day off his arm and stubble on his face, the 39-year-old right-hander gave up just one run and four hits over five innings with four walks and six strikeouts — including four straight in the fourth and fifth. He lowered that series ERA to 5.63.
Philadelphia loaded the bases in the second on Segura’s single and a pair of walks. After a visit from pitching coach Bill Murphy, Verlander got out of trouble by defeating Rhys Hoskins on a slider.
“You’ve got to get these guys in early,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson. “The pitching coach made a trip to the mound and it seemed like he went to his slider right after that and pitched better.”
Verlander shot with unusual care, throwing all fastballs to Harper in 17 pitches over three plate appearances.
After Harper doubled on the last of the two with two outs in the fifth, Verlander and Castellanos faced off in an epic 10 pitch-at-bat. After attempting two fastballs, two curveballs and his only changeup of the night, Verlander threw his fifth slider of the plate look and pulled Castellanos back on a left flyout, pumping a fist twice with excitement.
That was Verlander’s 94th pitch. Dusty Baker, on the verge of his first title as a major league manager in a quarter of a century, went to his bullpen.
Astros pitchers knocked out 12, bringing their total to 26 in two games.
Philadelphia lost for the first time in a row this postseason. The Phillies adjusted their plans after the Game 3 rain and wore vintage powder blue uniforms for the first time since 1983 on the show.
Syndergaard made his first Fall Classic appearance since 2015 with the New York Mets and has been limited to three relief appearances since his last start on October 1.
Jose Altuve drove his second pitch up off the wall at center right and finished third when midfielder Marsh fumbled the pickup after an error. Thomson made the unusual decision to move the infield for the game’s second batter, and Peña put a single down the middle.
Schwarber equalized on Verlander’s second pitch, spinning a fastball and sending a no-doubt drive to the right for his second home run of the series and fifth of the postseason.
Harper went with an out in the third and Peña jumped to grab Castellanos’ scorcher. Alec Bohm singled and Verlander pulled Bryson Scott back on a flyout.
Peña jumped on a hanging curveball in the fourth for his fourth postseason homer, Syndergaard’s 44th and final pitch.
This was the third game in November and marked the first time much of the series had been played that month.
Gurriel completed his first 48 plate appearances of the postseason without a strikeout before running into Connor Brogdon in the fourth. He was behind only Joey Cora’s 51 in 1995, David Eckstein’s 50 in 2006 and Juan Pierre’s 49 in 2003.
Houston LHP Framber Valdez meets Phillies RHP Zack Wheeler. Valdez allowed one run, four hits and three walks over 6 1/3 innings in Game 2, while Wheeler gave up five runs — four earned — and three walks over five innings, including Alex Bregman’s two-run homer.
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