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Astros edge Phillies, 3-2, to get within one game of World Series championship

The Astros are one win away from another World Series title after a 3-2 win over the Phillies. The teams head back to Houston for Game 6 on Saturday.

PHILADELPHIA — Justin Verlander overcame an early jolt to grit out the World Series win that long eluded him, rookie Jeremy Peña hit a go-ahead home run and the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 Thursday night to head home with a 3-2 lead.

Buoyed by late defensive gems from Trey Mancini and Chas McCormick, the Astros moved to the brink of their second championship — the other was a scandal-tainted title in 2017. They can close it out Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Houston went ahead just four pitches in against Noah Syndergaard on Peña's run-scoring single. Then Philly's Kyle Schwarber homered leading off the bottom half, harkening to the five-run lead Verlander wasted in Houston’s opening 6-5, 10-inning loss.

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Peña had three hits, including an RBI single in the first and an eighth-inning single that set up Yordan Alvarez’s run-scoring groundout. He made a leaping catch at shortstop to foil the Phillies in the third, then regained the lead an inning later with his fourth postseason homer. He's the first rookie shortstop ever to go deep in the Fall Classic.

After Jean Segura's one-out RBI single off Rafael Montero in the eighth, Ryan Pressly escaped a first-and-third jam by striking out Brandon Marsh and Schwarber on a nearly 100 mph one-hopper that was snagged over first base by Mancini.

Mancini, the backup first baseman, pinch hit in the top half after 2021 Gold Glove winner Yuli Gurriel got into a collision during a rundown, hurting his right knee. He played defense for the first time since the regular-season finale, falling into foul territory and reaching back with his left foot to touch the bag on Schwarber's rip.

McCormick helped Pressly finish a five-out save. The center fielder ran 91 feet to made a leaping backhand catch against the chain-link fence in front of the right-center scoreboard on J.T. Realmuto for the second out of the ninth.

“I thought he hit it out," McCormick said.

After Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch, Nick Castellanos bounced to shortstop, ending a 3-hour, 57-minute thriller.

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Of previous Series tied 2-2, the Game 5 victor has won 31 of 47 times.

Verlander is among just five Astros remaining from the team caught using video to steal signs in '17. He had been 0-6 with an unseemly 6.07 ERA in eight Series starts dating to his rookie season with Detroit in 2006, a blotch in the career of the 244-game winner likely to earn his third Cy Young Award this season.

Pitching with an extra day of rest for his arm and stubble on his face, the 39-year-old right-hander gave up just the one run and four hits over five innings with four walks and six strikeouts — including four in a row 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 wiggled out of trouble by striking out out Rhys Hoskins on a slider.

“You got to get those guys early,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “Pitching coach made a trip to the mound and it seemed like immediately after that he went to his slider and he pitched better.”

Verlander pitched with unusual care, throwing exclusively fastballs in 17 pitches to Harper over three plate appearances.

After Harper doubled on the last of those with two outs in the fifth, Verlander and Castellanos faced off in an epic 10-pitch at-bat. After trying two fastballs, two curveballs and his only changeup of the night, Verlander threw his fifth slider of the plate appearance and retired Castellanos on a flyout to short left, pumping a fist twice in excitement.

That was Verlander’s 94th pitch. Dusty Baker, nearing his first title in a quarter-century as a major league manager, went to his bullpen.

Astros pitchers struck out 12, raising their two-game total to 26.

Philadelphia lost consecutive games for the first time this postseason. The Phillies adjusted plans following the Game 3 rainout and wore vintage powder blue uniforms in the Series for first time since 1983.

Syndergaard made his first Fall Classic appearance since 2015 with the New York Mets and had been limited to three relief appearances since his previous start on Oct. 1.

Jose Altuve drove his second pitch high off the wall in right-center and took third when center fielder Marsh fumbled the pickup for an error. Thomson made the unusual decision to move the infield in for the game’s second batter, and Peña lined a single to center.

Schwarber tied it on Verlander’s second pitch, turning on a fastball and sending a no-doubt drive to right for his second home run of the Series and fifth this postseason.

Harper walked with one out in the third and Peña jumped to grab Castellanos’ scorcher. Alec Bohm singled and Verlander retired Bryson Scott 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, marking the first time a majority of the Series was played in that month.


Gurriel went his first 48 plate appearances of the postseason without a strikeout before whiffing against Connor Brogdon in the fourth. He trailed only Joey Cora’s 51 in 1995, David Eckstein’s 50 in 2006 and Juan Pierre’s 49 in 2003.


Houston LHP Framber Valdez is set to face 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.

Game updates below:

Astros vs. Phillies ninth inning

FINAL: Astros 3, Phillies 2

Zach Eflin takes the mound for the Phillies and David Hensley singled on a soft ground ball to start the ninth inning. Chas McCormick struck out swinging for the first out. Martín Maldonado broke his bat on a grounder to reach first base and advance Hensley to second. Jose Altuve grounded into a double play to end the top of the ninth.

Rhys Hoskins struck out swinging for the first out in the bottom of the ninth. J.T. Realmuto sends a fly ball deep into center field, but Chas McCormick was there to make a leaping catch against the wall for out number two. Bryce Harper walked after being hit by a pitch. Nick Castellanos grounded out to first for the last out.

Astros vs. Phillies eighth inning

Astros 3, Phillies 2

Seranthony Domínguez walked Jose Altuve to kick off the eighth inning. Jeremy Peña followed up with a single, advancing Altuve to third base. The Phillies swapped Domínguez for David Robertson. Yordan Alvarez hits a grounder and gets tagged out, advancing Peña to second and sending Altuve home. The Astros extended their lead to 3-1 over the Phillies.

Rafael Montero took the mound for the Astros and walked Nick Castellanos to start the bottom of the eighth. Alec Bohm struck out swinging for the first out. Bryson Stott drew a walk, advancing Castellanos to second base. Jean Segura hit a line drive to Kyle Tucker, sending Castellanos home and Bryson Stott to third. The Astros lead, 3-2. Ryan Pressly takes over for Montero. Pressly struck out Brandon Marsh for the second out. Trey Mancini catches a hard-hit grounder by Kyle Schwarber at first for the final out of the eighth.

Astros vs. Phillies seventh inning

Astros 2, Phillies 1

Seranthony Domínguez took the mound for the Phillies and gave up a double to Yuli Gurriel to start the top of the seventh. Gurriel advanced to third on a wild pitch. Chas McCormick hit a ground ball and Gurriel was tagged out after getting caught in a rundown. McCormick made it to second base. Martín Maldonado grounded out at first to end the top of the seventh.

Rhys Hoskins struck out to start the bottom of the seventh. Bryan Abreu struck out J.T. Realmuto for out number two and Bryce Harper hit an infield flyout for out number three. The Astros carried their 2-1 lead to the eighth.

Astros vs. Phillies sixth inning

Astros 2, Phillies 1

Jose Altuve hit a single to lead off the sixth. Alex Bregman was walked after being hit on his back foot. Altuve advanced to second base with two outs before Kyle Tucker grounded out at first to close out the top of the sixth.

Relief pitcher Héctor Neris took over for Justin Verlander in the bottom of the sixth. Alec Bohm hit a leadoff single to start the bottom of the inning. Bryson Stott followed up with a flyout that was almost dropped by Kyle Tucker in center field. Bryan Abreu, who took over for Héctor Neris, hit Brandon Marsh with his first pitch. Kyle Schwarber grounded out to first to end the inning. The Astros kept their 2-1 lead.

Astros vs. Phillies fifth inning

Astros 2, Phillies 1

Phillies pitcher Connor Brogdon retired three Astros pitchers in a row to get out of the top of the fifth unscathed.

Justin Verlander struck out Rhys Hopkins and J.T. Realmuto to start the bottom of the fifth. Bryce Harper doubled off a Justin Verlander fastball. Nick Castellanos hit a flyout to close out the fifth. The Astros hung on to their one-run lead, 2-1.

Astros vs. Phillies fourth inning

Astros 2, Phillies 1

Jeremy Peña became the first rookie shortstop to hit a home run in the World Series, giving the Astros a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning. The Phillies went to their bullpen to replace starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard with Connor Brogdon, who closed out the inning after giving up a double to Alex Bregman.

Three Philly batters, three outs. The Astros carried their lead into the fifth inning. 

Astros vs. Phillies third inning

Astros 1, Phillies 1

Chas McCormick hit a flyout to start the third inning and Martín Maldonado followed suit. Jose Altuve grounded out to close out the top of the third.

The Phillies left two runners stranded as Verlander and the Astros closed out the third. The game stays tied at 1-1.

Astros vs. Phillies second inning

Astros 1, Phillies 1

Phillies pitcher Noah Syndergaard retired three Astros batters in a row to end the top of the second. Kyle Tucker struck out, Yuli Gurriel fouled out and David Hensley struck out.

Alec Bohm fouled out for the Phillies to kick off the bottom of the second inning. Bryson Stott hit a flyout before Jean Segura singled. The next two batters, Brandon Marsh and Kyle Schwarber, both drew walks to load the bases. Verlander struck out Rhys Hopkins to close out the inning.

Astros vs. Phillies first inning

Astros 1, Phillies 1

The Astros jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first inning after leadoff hitter Jose Altuve tripled and Jeremy Peña earned an RBI single.

The Phillies answered back with Kyle Schwarber hitting a leadoff homerun off Justin Verlander, tieing the game 1-1.

Top performers

Kyle Schwarber leads Philadelphia with 46 home runs while slugging .504. Rhys Hoskins is 9-for-39 with five home runs and nine RBI over the last 10 games.

Yordan Alvarez has a .306 batting average to lead the Astros, and has 29 doubles, two triples and 37 home runs. Jeremy Pena is 14-for-45 with three home runs and six RBI over the last 10 games.

Last 10 games

Phillies: 7-3, .224 batting average, 3.54 ERA, outscored opponents by 11 runs

Astros: 8-2, .222 batting average, 1.91 ERA, outscored opponents by 12 runs


Phillies: Kent Emanuel: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Mark Appel: 60-Day IL (elbow), Simon Muzziotti: 60-Day IL (knee), Corey Knebel: 60-Day IL (lat), Hans Crouse: 60-Day IL (biceps), James McArthur: 60-Day IL (elbow), Damon Jones: 60-Day IL (shoulder)

Astros: Michael Brantley: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Jason Castro: 60-Day IL (knee), Josh James: 60-Day IL (lat)

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