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LOS ANGELES—Joc Pederson sliced a drive over the left-field wall, pounded his chest and danced around the bases, taking as many twists and turns as this World Series itself. Of course, the Los Angeles Dodgers forced the Houston Astros to Game 7.
Chris Taylor hit a tying double off Justin Verlander during a two-run rally in the sixth inning, Corey Seager followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly and the Dodgers beat the Astros 3-1 on Tuesday night to push this dramatic World Series to the ultimate game.
Pederson homered in the seventh against Joe Musgrove, connecting off the right-hander for the second time in three games for the record 24th long ball of this Series. Pederson pranced all the way to the plate, pointing at the Dodgers’ dugout and rubbing his thumbs and index fingers together to indicate what a money shot it was.
Yu Darvish starts Wednesday for the Dodgers, trying to win their first title since 1988, and Lance McCullers Jr. for the Astros in the first World Series Game 7 ever at Dodger Stadium. Darvish was chased in the second inning of Game 2, when McCullers pitched Houston to a 5-3 victory.
George Springer’s third-inning home run against starter Rich Hill had given a 1-0 lead to Verlander and the Astros, trying for the first title in their 56-season history. On Halloween night, a championship for a team with orange in its colours seemed appropriate.
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But it served only to set up the 10th blown lead of the Series, the fifth by Houston, as Verlander fell to 9-1 with Houston.
Dodgers relievers combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Brandon Morrow retired Alex Bregman on a grounder to strand the bases loaded in the fifth, winner Tony Watson got Marwin Gonzalez to fly out with two on and two outs in the sixth, and Kenta Maeda escaped two-on trouble in the seventh when third baseman Justin Turner gloved Jose Altuve’s grounder and threw a one-hop throw that first baseman Cody Bellinger scooped just in time.
This will be the third World Series Game 7 in four years. Ten of the last 12 teams that won Game 6 to force a seventh game also won the title, but the Dodgers lost the previous six World Series in which they trailed 3-2. They have won just one of their six championships at home, in 1963.
Los Angelenos with a laid-back reputation were more energetic and on their feet for two-strike counts against Astros batters, a wave in Pantone 294 — also known as Dodger blue. Stadium organist Dieter Ruehle greeted the Astros with “Hotel California” for the start of batting practice, but there was an un-L.A.-like drizzle in the middle innings.
Verlander has 11 post-season wins but dropped to 0-4 in the Series with Detroit and Houston, which acquired him from the Tigers on Aug. 31 to win on nights like this.
The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner, Verlander allowed just one baserunner before Austin Barnes singled leading off the sixth. Verlander bounced a pitch that hit Chase Utley on the front of his right foot, and Taylor sent a 97 m.p.h. fastball down the right-field line as Barnes came home. Seager followed with a sacrifice fly to the right-field warning track, a ball that likely would have landed in the pavilion in last week’s hot air.
Verlander prevented more damage when Turner fouled out and the right-hander fanned Bellinger, who struck out four times for the second time in the Series.
Springer homered for the third straight game and fourth time in the Series, one shy of the record set by Reggie Jackson in 1977 and matched by Chase Utley in 2009. While it silenced the Dodger Stadium crowd, Astros fans erupted at a watch party in Minute Maid Park. Los Angeles has allowed home runs in all 14 of its post-season games.
Brian McCann singled leading off the fifth and Gonzalez doubled past Turner and down the left-field line. Hill struck out Josh Reddick and Verlander, and Springer was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Morrow relieved as the crowd booed manager Dave Roberts’ decision, and Hill slapped at four cups of liquid in the dugout, sending them spraying against the wall. Appearing in his sixth straight Series game, Morrow got Bregman to ground to shortstop on his second pitch.
Watson walked Reddick leading off the seventh, Evan Gattis pinch hit for Verlander and Maeda relieved. Gattis bounced to shortstop, just beating Utley’s throw from second to avoid a double play. Springer reached on an infield single that bounced off Seager’s glove at shortstop and into left field, and Bregman’s fly to deep centre allowed pinch-runner Derek Fisher to tag up and advance to third, bringing up Altuve. Walking down the dugout steps after his groundout, Altuve slammed his helmet.