HOUSTON (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers, playing with their backs against the wall for the first time all year, sprang back to life with a five-run ninth inning on Saturday to beat the Houston Astros 6-2 and level the World Series at two games apiece.
With Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw set to take the mound for Sunday’s pivotal Game Five in Houston, the best team in baseball all season are suddenly back on track in their quest for a first World Series title since 1988.
“It’s now a three-game series, and we’ve got our ace going tomorrow. So I know that in our clubhouse we feel good,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
The Dodgers, who breezed through regular season and into World Series, were staring at a potential 3-1 series deficit until Cody Bellinger’s bat came alive when he doubled and scored the tying run in the seventh inning.
Bellinger, who had been hitless in his previous 13 plate appearances, then put the Dodgers ahead in the ninth with a run-scoring double as part of a five-run inning that was capped by Joc Pederson’s three-run blast.
“We’ve been doing it all year. We’re a super resilient team,” said Bellinger, whose Dodgers are now guaranteed to host a Game Six on Tuesday. “Taking one here to make sure we go back to LA is huge.”
The game had been a tight affair as both teams got stellar outings from their starting pitchers.
Dodgers left-hander Alex Wood was working on a no-hitter when George Springer opened the scoring with a two-out homer in the sixth that ended the pitcher’s night. The Dodgers responded an inning later when a Logan Forsythe scored single Bellinger.
“I was glad to keep us in it long enough to where our bats came alive. That felt like us there those last few innings,” said Wood. “It’s a big win for us. We’ve got our guy going tomorrow, so we’re excited to be able to take it back to LA, too.”
Houston’s Charlie Morgan was nearly as impressive as he allowed just three hits in 6-1/3 innings.
The Astros sent closer Ken Giles out for the ninth and he promptly allowed a single to Corey Seager, a walk to Justin Turner before Bellinger put the Dodgers ahead.
“He hadn’t faced those guys a ton, but they didn’t have good swings against him in LA,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Giles. “One ground-ball base hit to start the inning and things sort of sped up on him a little bit, the walk after that.”
With the Astros down to their final strike, Alex Bregman homered to left but it proved too little too late as Houston’s unbeaten home stretch in the postseason ended at seven games.
Game Five of the best-of-seven World Series is scheduled for Sunday in Houston where the Astros will send Dallas Keuchel to the mound against Kershaw in a battle of left-handed former Cy Young Award winners.
Reporting by Frank Pingue; Editing by Peter Rutherford/Amlan Chakraborty