Astros edge Dodgers in thriller to seize World Series lead

Houston (AFP) –


Alex Bregman singled home Derek Fisher with the winning run in the 10th inning and the Houston Astros reached the brink of their first World Series title Sunday by outlasting the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-12 in a tension-packed thriller.

The Astros seized a 3-2 lead in Major League Baseball's best-of-seven final and can claim the crown by winning game six on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

The Dodgers, seeking a seventh championship and their first since 1988, must win to force a winner-take-all seventh game on Wednesday.

In an epic game that mirrored the momentum swings a drama-filled series has produced, the outcome was decided after five hours and 17 minutes by standouts for each club.

Astros catcher Brian McCann started the decisive rally by taking first base when struck in the right arm by a pitch from Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen, who then walked George Springer to put the winning run on second base.

The Astros inserted pinch-runner Fisher and Bregman followed with a single to left field that sent Fisher racing across the plate ahead of a desperate throw that was too late to prevent the deciding run and an emotional celebration by the Astros and their fans.

It was the second-highest score for a losing team in World Series history, the only similar slugfest in the event's 113 editions being Toronto's 15-14 game-four win at Philadelphia in 1993.

The Astros led 12-9 in the ninth and were one strike from victory before the Dodgers equalized.

Yasiel Puig smashed a two-run homer into the left-field stands off Houston relief pitcher Chris Devenski with one out to pull the Dodgers within 12-11.

It was the 22nd homer of this World Series, breaking the total homers mark of 21 set in 2002, and the game's seventh combined homer for both teams, matching a Series record from 1989.

Austin Barnes followed with a double and took third on Joc Pederson's ground out to shortstop. Dodgers leadoff batter Chris Taylor was down to his last strike before ripping a single up the middle to score Barnes and level the game.

Houston's Yuli Gurriel smacked a two-out, two-run double in the Astros' half of the ninth to put a winning run in scoring position but Josh Reddick flew out to force extra innings.

- Springer makes up for miss -

Cody Bellinger tripled in Enrique Hernandez in the seventh after Astros centerfielder George Springer missed a diving catch attempt to give the Dodgers an 8-7 edge.

Springer made up for the mistake with a solo homer off Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow to equalize at 8-8 in the seventh.

Houston's Bregman then singled and scored on Jose Altuve's double, and Carlos Correa followed with a two-run homer that gave the Astros an 11-8 lead.

The Dodgers answered in the eighth, Pederson blasting a double off the left-field wall and scoring on Corey Seager's double. But Brian McCann smacked a solo homer to boost the Astros' edge to 12-9, setting up the ninth-inning drama.

The Dodgers seized a 7-4 advantage in the fifth inning after Astros relief pitcher Collin McHugh walked Seager and Justin Turner then surrendered a three-run homer to Bellinger, who was batting only 2-for-17 with 10 strikeouts in the World Series.

But the Astros equalized in the bottom of the fifth on Altuve's three-run homer over the left-field wall.

- Dodgers squander big lead -

Dodgers star left-hander Clayton Kershaw, 3-0 in the playoffs, allowed four runs in the fourth inning as the Astros pulled level, the first time this year Los Angeles squandered a four-run edge.

Gurriel, whose controversial racist gesture in game three aimed at Dodgers' Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish did not result in a World Series ban, smashed a three-run homer after a run-scoring Correa double.

Gurriel was suspended for the first five games of the 2018 campaign for his game three actions.

Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel, game one's losing pitcher, surrendered four runs off five hits and an error over 3 2/3 innings in the shortest playoff outing by a Houston starter.

The Dodgers jumped ahead 4-0 as Logan Forsythe hit a two-run single, Hernandez scored from third on an errant throw by Gurriel and Forsythe scored on a Barnes single.