HOUSTON – Framber Valdez made a five-run lead stand up after Houston’s lightning first-inning burst, Alex Bregman homered and the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 Saturday night to tie the World Series at one game apiece.
Just like in Game 1, the Astros rushed to a 5-0 lead. Unlike ace Justin Verlander in the opener, Valdez and Houston held on.
Valdez rebounded from a pair of poor outings in last year’s Series to pitch shutout ball into the seventh, and the bullpen survived a couple of jams to close things out.
Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez all doubled as Houston took a two-run lead four pitches in against Zack Wheeler. An error allowed another run in the first and Bregman added a two-run homer in the fifth.
A day after coming back for a 6-5 win in 10 innings. Philadelphia tried to rally in this one, too.
With the Phillies trailing by four runs, Kyle Schwarber hit a drive deep down the right-field line with a man on in the eighth against Rafael Montero that was originally ruled a two-run homer by right field line umpire James Hoye.
First base umpire Tripp Gibson at first signaled for umps to conference and the call was reversed on a crew chief review when it was determined the ball was just to the foul side of the pole.
Schwarber, who led the NL in home runs this season, then hit a long drive that was caught at the right field wall.
Following the split in Houston, the Series resumes Monday night when Citizens Bank Park hosts the Series for the first time since 2009.
Of 61 previous Series tied 1-1, the Game 2 winner went on to the title 31 times – but just four of the last 14.
After struggling to a 19.29 ERA in a pair of Series starts in last year’s six-game loss to Atlanta, Valdez pitched with polish and poise. His cheeks glistening with sweat, the 28-year-old left-hander struck out nine and walked three, allowing four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
He blew by batters with a fastball averaging 95.6 mph and baffled them with his curve, which got three of his strikeouts- all looking. Unusually, he changed his glove and spikes mid-outing.
When the Phillies put two runners on for the only time against him in the sixth, Valdez struck out Game 1 star J.T. Realmuto with high heat, then got Bryce Harper to bounce a first-pitch sinker into an inning-ending double play.