PHILADELPHIA — A rookie and a future Hall of Famer combined to bring the Houston Astros within one victory of a World Series title.
Jeremy Pena homered among his three hits and drove in two runs, Justin Verlander tossed five solid innings and the Houston Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in Game 5 of the World Series on Thursday.
The Astros head home with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, needing to win on Saturday or on Sunday (if necessary) to claim the championship.
“Great ballclubs win close games,” said Pena, a 25-year-old rookie. “We know there’s still work to do. We’re trying to finish it off in Houston.”
En route to his first-ever World Series win, Verlander (2-0) gave up four hits and one run with six strikeouts and four walks. The two-time Cy Young Award winner began the night 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity and thankful to come through,” Verlander said.
“He’s our ace,” Astros manager Dusty Baker added. “It’s hard to pull our ace.”
Houston relievers Hector Neris and Bryan Abreu combined for two scoreless innings, and Rafael Montero gave up one run in one-third of an inning. Ryan Pressly got the final five outs to record his fifth save of the postseason.
In the ninth, after Rhys Hoskins struck out, Astros center fielder Chas McCormick made a crashing catch against the wall on a ball hit by J.T. Realmuto. Bryce Harper was struck by a pitch before Nick Castellanos grounded out to shortstop to end the game.
“I think the approach is the same that we’ve had, just come out the next day and go get ’em, prepare, compete,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “These guys will show up, I guarantee it. They’re going to fight to the end, for sure.”
Jose Altuve added two hits and two runs for the Astros.
Kyle Schwarber led off the bottom of the first with a home run, Jean Segura had two hits and an RBI and Alec Bohm added two hits for the Phillies.
The Phillies have now dropped consecutive games for the first time this postseason.
“We’ve had our backs against the wall before,” Hoskins said. “We’ve always responded. I don’t think anything is different.”
Castellanos added, “Now we’ve got our work cut out for us in Houston.”
Philadelphia starter Noah Syndergaard (0-1) tossed three-plus innings and allowed two runs on three hits and no walks. He struck out four.
Phillies relievers Connor Brogdon and Jose Alvarado combined for three shutout innings, but Seranthony Dominguez allowed a run in the eighth. David Robertson and Zach Eflin each tossed a shutout inning as well.
Altuve led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a fielding error by center fielder Brandon Marsh and scored on an RBI single by Pena.
The Phillies quickly tied the game at 1 when Schwarber ripped a solo homer.
After loading the bases with two outs in the second, Verlander rallied to strike out Hoskins swinging.
Pena socked a solo homer to left to open the fourth, giving the Astros a 2-1 advantage.
“He’s played remarkably well,” Baker said. “He’s really carried us here through this postseason. That’s tough for a young player.”
Harper doubled with two outs in the fifth, but Castellanos flied out to left on the 10th pitch of the at-bat against Verlander.
Houston’s Yuli Gurriel doubled and was on third with no outs in the seventh. One out later, McCormick grounded into a 5-2-6-3 out with Hoskins tumbling over his head while tagging out Gurriel.
Gurriel was injured on the play and was removed for a pinch hitter an inning later. Baker said postgame that the first baseman is day-to-day due to right knee discomfort.
The Astros went ahead 3-1 in the eighth when Altuve walked, Pena singled and Yordan Alvarez hit an RBI groundout to first. Hoskins bobbled the ball long enough for Altuve to score.
Segura lined an RBI single to right to close the gap to 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, snapping an 0-for-20 stretch for the Phillies with runners in scoring position. Pressly then entered with one out and runners on first and third, and he struck out Marsh before Schwarber grounded out sharply to Trey Mancini at first base.
–Andy Jasner, Field Level Media