The Los Angeles Dodgers withstood another Justin Verlander start, but this time did not fall in extra innings, and defeated the Houston Astros, 3-1, to force the World Series to a winner-take-all Game 7.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said length from Rich Hill would be vital in Game 6, but when push came to shove, it ultimately was not in the cards for the veteran left-hander.
Hill worked around Alex Bregman’s one-out single in the first inning and retired the side in order in the second. To that point he was matching wits with Justin Verlander, but with two outs in the third inning, George Springer lifted a quality pitch for an opposite-field home run.
After setting the Astros down in order in the fourth inning, Hill immediately faced trouble in the fifth. Brian McCann lined a single into right field, which Marwin Gonzalez followed with a double down the third-base line.
Hill responded with strikeouts of Josh Reddick and Verlander, but was removed after intentionally walking Springer. Brandon Morrow seemingly tapped into his reserve tank for his 13th appearance this postseason.
He retired Bregman and proceeded to retire the two batters faced in the sixth inning. Tony Watson and Chase Utley entered in a double switch, replacing Morrow and Logan Forsythe, respectively.
Watson gave up a single to Yulieski Gurriel and hit McCann with a pitch before getting out of the inning to keep the Dodgers’ deficit at 1-0. That proved key as the Dodgers manufactured a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth to take a lead.
Showing his first signs of mortality, Verlander gave up a leadoff single to Austin Barnes. Then after Utley was hit by a pitch, Chris Taylor flared a game-tying double into shallow right field.
Corey Seager put a swing on the ball that in last week’s hot weather results in a three-run home run, but his fly ball died at the wall in right field for a sacrifice fly that pushed the Dodgers ahead.
Having pinch-hit for Verlander in the seventh, the Astros turned to their bullpen in the bottom half of the inning. It again faltered as Joe Musgrove allowed a home run to Joc Pederson. He became the first Dodgers player to hit three home runs in the World Series since Davey Lopes in 1978.
Like Morrow, Kenta Maeda responded from a disappointing appearance in Game 5 to navigate his way through a scoreless seventh inning. Roberts said during pregame media availability that Jansen was limited to three outs.
Jansen entered in the eighth and converted a six-out save. The decision to stretch the Dodgers closer was perhaps influenced by Jansen only needing seven pithes to get through the eighth inning.
Verlander struck out nine and allowed three runs on two hits over his six innings of work. Including the regular season, the loss was his first in 11 starts for the Astros.