Dodgers players
Los Angeles Dodgers players after Tuesday night’s victory. Courtesy of the team

The Los Angeles Dodgers will try to even the World Series at two games apiece Saturday at Houston’s Minute Maid Park after a 5-3 loss Friday put history on the Houston Astros’ side.

Of the 88 previous times a World Series has been 2-1, the team leading the series has gone on to win 57 times, or 64.8 percent. However, three of the last four teams leading 2-1 have lost.

The teams leading 2-1 are 44-44 in Game 3. Of the 44 teams who led 2-1 and won Game 4, 37, or 84.1 percent, have gone on to win the series.

The Dodgers will send left-hander Alex Wood to the mound against Houston right-hander Charlie Morton

Unlike the Dodgers’ Game 2 starter, Rich Hill, who was replaced after four innings, or Game 3 starter Yu Darvish, who lasted a career-low 1 2/3 innings, Wood “is going to have to go deep,” manager Dave Roberts said.

“We’ve just got to go out there and pitch well out of the gate,” Roberts said after Friday’s game. “Obviously this crowd is into it, very educated, very enthusiastic. They’ve got some confidence over there, that team. And it’s up to us, up to Alex to go out there and set the tone, get a quick first inning.”

In his only appearance of the 2017 postseason, Wood retired the side in order in the first, then allowed two solo homers in second and allowed three runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings in his first career postseason start and was charged with the loss in a 3-2 defeat to the Chicago Cubs in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series on Oct. 18.

“I felt really comfortable in Chicago,” Wood said before Friday’s game. “If you can feel comfortable there, you can feel comfortable anywhere. So I’m really excited about the opportunity tomorrow.”

Wood had a career-high 16 victories and a career-low 2.72 ERA in the regular season. In his lone start against the Astros, he pitched seven scoreless innings and allowed three hits, striking out four and walking one in the Atlanta Braves’ 4-0 victory at Minute Maid Park on June 25, 2014.

Houston was 70-92 in 2014. It was 101-61 this season, one victory short of the team record.

Morton is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three starts during the 2017 postseason. He was the winning pitcher in Houston’s 5-0 pennant-clinching victory over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series, allowing two hits, striking out five and walking one in five innings.

This is Morton’s first season with the Astros after spending the first nine seasons of his career in the National League.

Houston broke open Friday’s game with four runs in the second inning. Yuli Gurriel homered leading off the inning. Former Dodger Josh Reddick followed with a double and scored two batters later on Marwin Gonzalez’s single.

The next batter, Brian McCann singled, driving home Evan Gattis who walked. Gonzalez scored on Alex Bregman’s sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers combined walks to Joc Pederson, Kike Hernandez and Chris Taylor and Chris Taylor grounding into a double play for a run in the third.

The Astros added an unearned run in the fifth on Dodger pitcher Tony Watson’s throwing error on Evan Gattis’ two-out infield single which allowed Reddick, who had singled, to score.

The Dodgers had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth when Houston manager A.J. Hinch replaced starter Lance McCullers Jr. with Brad Peacock. The first batter Peacock faced, Yasiel Puig, grounded out, driving in Corey Sager, who walked, and advancing Justin Turner, who doubled, to third. Turner scored on a wild pitch by Peacock.

Peacock pitched the final 3 2/3 innings for the first save of his career, allowing only one batter to reach base, Andre Ethier on a two-out walk in the seventh.

Peacock matched Ted Wilks of the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals for the second- longest relief outing without allowing a hit to finish a World Series game. The record is four innings by Ron Taylor of the 1964 Cardinals.

McCullers got the victory, allowing three runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings. Darvish took the loss, allowing four runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings.

“He just really didn’t have the feel and couldn’t get any type of rhythm going,” Roberts said. “They were taking good swings, obviously taking good at-bats against him. But it just goes to the fastball command and the breaking ball just wasn’t there.”

Dodger rookie cleanup hitter Cody Bellinger struck out four times, the 17th time that occurred in World Series history. Bellinger is hitless in 11 at- bats in the series, but Roberts indicated that he expected Bellinger to be in Saturday’s starting lineup.

“He’s just in that funk right now where he’s chasing balls out of the strike zone,” Roberts said. “He’s trying his tail off. I think we’ve got to get him to slow down and stay in the strike zone.”

The capacity crowd of 43,282 for the three-hour, 46-minute game that saw the Astros improve to 7-0 at Minute Maid Park in the postseason included Basketball Hall of Famer and Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson, comedian George Lopez, former President George H.W. Bush, and Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan.

Gurriel was caught on camera following his home run making a racist gesture in reference to Darvish, who is from Japan. Gurriel raised his hands as to stretch the side of his eyes. He later acknowledged using the Spanish word Chinito, which can be a demeaning term for Asians.

“I just feel bad,” Gurriel said through an interpreter. “If anybody got offended over there, it was not my intention.”

Darvish tweeted, “No one is perfect. That includes both you and I.

What he had done today isn’t right, but I believe we should put our effort into learning rather than to accuse him. If we can take something from this, that is a giant step for mankind. Since we are living in such a wonderful world, let’s stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger. I’m counting on everybody’s big love.”

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Saturday afternoon that Gurriel will be suspended for the first five games of the 2018 season for the gesture, but will not miss any time in the World Series.

—City News Service

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