Verlander gets World Series win, Astros lead Phillies 3-2

Justin Verlander overcame an early jerk to claim the World Series win that had long eluded him, and the Astros beat the Phillies 3-2 to go home with a 3-2 lead.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Justin Verlander beamed like a first-time Big Leaguer, and the Houston Astros celebrated the 244-game winner like a baby-faced rookie.

“They put me in the car and rolled me in the shower and just poured all kinds of stuff on me,” he said. “And it was one of the best feelings of my career.”

After 16 years of trying, Verlander has finally clinched his elusive first World Series win.

The soon-to-be three-time Cy Young Award winner overcame an early jerk, rookie Jeremy Peña hit a go-ahead homer and drove in two runs and the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 on Thursday night to go home with a 3 -2 series lead.

“I can say I have one,” Verlander announced proudly.

Buoyed by defensive gems from Trey Mancini in eighth and Chas McCormick in ninth, the Astros edged to the brink of their second championship — the other being a scandalous title in 2017. They can end the Phillies by minute Saturday night at Maid Park.

“There’s going to be a lot of energy in our park,” said Houston’s 73-year-old Dusty Baker, one win away from his first title in 25 seasons as a major league manager.

Philadelphia, wearing powder blue vintage uniforms in the series for the first time since 1983, lost its first straight game this postseason.

In previous Fall Classics that tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has won 31 of 47 times. Three years ago, the Astros lost Games 6 and 7 at home to Washington.

“I think it’s important that we already won that series there,” said the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins. “Should give us a little more confidence.”

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 stain on a likely career in the Hall of Fame.

The 39-year-old right-hander, who had an extra rest day for his arm and stubble on his face, gave up just one run and four hits in five innings with four walks and six strikeouts. He brought that Series ERA down to 5.63, a celebratory ceiling for a season in which he returned from Tommy John surgery and reemerged as the AL’s top starter.

Houston went ahead by just four pitches against Noah Syndergaard in Peña’s run-scoring single. Then Kyle Schwarber hit his fifth postseason homer leading away from the bottom half and listened for the five-run lead Verlander squandered in Houston’s 6-5 10-inning loss.

“It just sucks because of the moment and of course all the questions and the weight,” Verlander said. “But you have to rely on the hundreds of starts and the thousands of pitches I’ve thrown before and just say, ‘Okay, I’ve given up home runs before. Let me carry you downstairs.'”

Philadelphia loaded the bases in the second on Jean Segura’s single and a pair of walks. After a visit from pitching coach Bill Murphy, Verlander wriggled out of trouble by beating Hoskins on a slider.

“It was a pretty tricky thing because my first start, my slider and my curveball hurt me the most,” Verlander said. “Once we started leaning on it a little, it was almost like testing the water, sticking your foot in the pool and seeing how cold it is.”

Verlander threw all fastballs in 17 pitches to Bryce Harper, who doubled with two outs in the fifth. Baker left Verlander to face Nick Castellanos.

“He was one of the best to come out of trouble and for me that was his game,” Baker said. “Who better to invite than that guy out there?”

Castellanos, whose single off a slider set Verlander’s demise in Game 1, followed with 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.

“It’s a centimeter game,” said Castellanos. “If I’m a little more on the ball, we’re in a different situation.”

Peña had three hits: an RBI single through a tucked infield in the first after Jose Altuve’s leadoff double, a homer in the fourth on a hanging curveball (his fourth postseason longball) for a 2-1 lead, and an eighth. Inning single that set up Yordan Alvarez’s run-scoring groundout. The shortstop also made a jump catch to defeat Castellanos in the third.

After 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 injured his right knee in a collision during a rundown. Playing on defense for the first time since the regular-season finals, Mancini got into foul territory and reached back with his left foot to touch the pouch.

“I just basically took it on,” Mancini said.

McCormick, who grew up a Phillies fan in the Philadelphia suburbs, 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 wanted to run through a wall and catch them no matter what,” McCormick said.

After Harper was hit by a pitch, Castellanos jumped to the shortstop, ending a 3 hour, 57 minute thriller.

“No complacency,” Verlander said. “We’ve been in this situation before. You can see how quickly momentum can change in this game.”


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. Verlander gets World Series win, Astros lead Phillies 3-2

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