Best World Series ever? Tense time, end of the line for Dodgers, Astros

Kenley Jansen. Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers/Twitter

The Los Angeles Dodgers will face the Houston Astros at Dodger Stadium Wednesday in the decisive seventh game of the World Series, with the Dodgers seeking their first title since 1988 and the Astros their first.

The Dodgers tied the best-of-seven series at three games a piece Tuesday with a 3-1 victory as four relievers shut out the Astros over the final 4 1/3 innings, limiting them to two hits, and Joc Pederson hit a solo homer in the seventh inning for an insurance run.

Yu Darvish will pitch for the Dodgers Wednesday against fellow right- hander Lance McCullers Jr.

McCullers was the winning pitcher and Darvish the loser in Houston’s 5-3 victory in Game 3 Friday at Houston. McCullers allowed three runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings, striking out three and walking four, before being relieved by right-hander Brad Peacock, who held the Dodgers hitless over the final 3 2/3 innings.

The 24-year-old McCullers said he “wasn’t very sharp” Friday.

“I knew that early, though, so I knew it was going to be a grind for me pretty much the whole outing, which it was,” McCullers said. “This is a very good-hitting team. They’re patient but yet they’ll make you pay for mistakes. So I have to go out there and … just execute my game plan and I need to execute a little better in certain spots.”

McCullers spent the 2014 season, his third as a professional, with the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League, then an Astros Class-A affiliate. McCullers was 3-6 with a 5.47 ERA for Lancaster. He made his major league debut the following season, going 6-7 with a 3.22 ERA for Houston.

McCullers’ father, Lance Sr., pitched for four teams in the majors from 1985-92.

Darvish allowed four runs and six hits in 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing in his major league career, which began in 2012.

“If it was the regular season, I probably would’ve (kept) going,” Darvish said through a translator. “I wouldn’t say it was the worst outing I ever had.”

This is the first time the seventh game of the World Series has been played at Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962. This will be the Dodgers first World Series Game 7 since 1965 when Sandy Koufax pitched a three-hitter, striking out 10, in a 2-0 victory over the host Minnesota Twins.

The Dodgers lost three Game 7s in best-of-seven series when they were based in Brooklyn, all to the New York Yankees. The Dodgers defeated the Yankees, 2-0, in Game 7 of the 1955 Series on Johnny Podres’ eight-hitter to win their only World Series championship when they were in Brooklyn.

This will be the 39th time a best-of-seven World Series has been extended to a final game, including 1912, when eight games were played because of a Game 2 tie.

The home team has an 18-20 record in Game 7, but has won nine of the past 11, beginning with the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982.

This will be the third time a World Series will conclude at Dodger Stadium. It happened previously in 1963, when the Dodgers swept the Yankees, and in 1978, when the Dodgers lost to the Yankees in six games.

This will be the first time either team has played in November. This is the sixth Series to extend into November, including each of the last two.

In Game 6, Corey Seager’s sacrifice fly drove in Chase Utley with the tie-breaking run in the sixth. The Dodgers tied the score earlier in the inning when Chris Taylor doubled in Austin Barnes who led off with a single.

Utley was hit by a 1-2 change-up thrown by Justin Verlander.

The Astros out-hit the Dodgers, 6-5, and left eight runners on base compared to four for the Dodgers. Houston was hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position while the Dodgers were one-for-five in the three- hour, 22-minute game played before a capacity crowd announced at 54,128.

“We won because we have 25 guys all pulling on the same string,” Pederson said. “We all have each other’s backs. You’ve been watching the Series, it’s been quite hectic, emotionally draining, mentally, physically, everything you could think of and we stick together.

We find a way to produce runs and our bullpen shut them down. It’s a group effort.”

Tony Watson, the third of five Dodger pitchers, was credited with the victory, pitching one-third of an inning. Kenley Jansen retired all six batters he faced for the save, throwing strikes on 18 of his 19 pitches.

The Astros opened the scoring in the third inning on George Springer’s two-out solo homer.

Dodger Manager Dave Roberts removed starter Rich Hill with two outs in the fifth and the bases loaded. Brandon Morrow induced Alex Bregman to ground out to end the inning.

Roberts described Morrow as “a guy that we’ve trusted all year long in that spot.”

“I felt that you have to use that bullet in Brandon Morrow,” Roberts said. “He came through in the biggest spot of the season.”

Hill allowed one run and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking one, intentionally.

Verlander, the Houston starter, was charged with the loss, allowing two runs and three hits over six innings, striking out nine and not walking any batters before being replaced with a pinch-hitter in the seventh and the Astros trailing, 2-1.

Houston manager A.J. Hinch said he hit for Verlander because “we had nine outs left and we were down. It’s no more complicated than that.”

Verlander allowed one baserunner through the first five innings — Yasiel Puig who singled with one out in the second and did not advance.

“I thought he was good, especially early,” Hinch said. “I thought he was obviously cruising. He had the one hiccup in the middle of the game, but that was about it.

They did a good job of putting some at-bats together and they got some big hits. Obviously the elevated fastball to Taylor in one of the biggest moments of the game. Again, I thought he stepped up and put as much into that game as he could.”

Verlander entered the game with a 9-0 record and 1.53 ERA since being obtained by Houston Aug. 31 in a trade with the Detroit Tigers.

This was the second Game 6 to be played at Dodger Stadium. The other was in 1978 when the Yankees defeated the Dodgers 7-2 to win their second consecutive World Series title. The Dodgers swept the 1963 Series from the Yankees, their only World Series sweep.

This was the first time the Dodgers have played a World Series game on Halloween and the fifth all-time.

—City News Service