PHILADELPHIA (AP)Justin Verlander overcame an early jolt to grit out the World Series win that long eluded him, rookie Jeremy Pena 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.
Houston went ahead just four pitches in against Noah Syndergaard on Pena’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.
Pena 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. The backup first baseman had pinch hit in the top half after 2021 Gold Glove winner Yuli Gurriel got into a collision during a rundown. Mancini fell into foul territory and reached back with his left foot to touch the bag.
Pressly finished for a five-out save. McCormick made a leaping backhand catch against the chain-link fence in right-center on J.T. Realmuto for the second out of the ninth. After Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch, Nick Castellanos grounded out, ending a 3-hour, 57-minute thriller.
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