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Sports

Phillies give Astros problem in World Series opener

Agence France-Presse
Phillies give Astros problem in World Series opener
J.T. Realmuto hits the game-winning homer.
AFP

HOUSTON – J.T. Realmuto belted the game-winning home run in the top of the 10th inning Friday as the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Astros, 6-5, in Game 1 of the World Series in Houston.

The Phillies, who were the last National League team to qualify for the playoffs, erased a 5-0 deficit against Houston’s two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Justin Verlander to hand the Astros their first defeat of this post-season.

Realmuto, who also unleashed a game-tying two-run double off Verlander in the fifth, said the game exemplified Philadelphia’s never-say-die spirit.

“It’s incredible,” said the catcher, who also took a hard foul ball to the face mask during the game. “The way we fought back in that game after being down five-nothing, that’s a Phillies win right there.”

Kyle Tucker homered twice for the Astros, who went 7-0 in the American League playoffs to roar into Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship series for the fourth time in six seasons.

They won in 2017, a triumph since tainted by a sign-stealing scandal that led to a $5 million fine for the club.

The Astros will try to regroup when they host Game 2 on Saturday.

Tucker led off the bottom of the second with a solo homer off Phillies starting pitcher Aaron Nola, smacking a changeup to deep right field. Houston added another run in the inning when Martin Maldonado’s ground ball single scored Yuli Gurriel.

Tucker added a three-run blast in the next inning to push the Astros’ lead to 5-0, becoming the first Houston player with multiple homers in a World Series game.

Jeremy Pena had doubled to deep right field to lead off the inning and reached third base on Yordan Alvarez’s ground out. Alex Bregman walked and Tucker returned to the plate where he smashed a fastball from Nola 395 feet to the right center field seats.

Meanwhile, Verlander was looking every inch the ace, not allowing a baserunner through three innings.

The Phillies finally broke through in the fourth when he gave up a one-out single to Rhys Hoskins. Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos followed with back-to-back base hits and Hoskins scored.

Alec Bohm’s line drive double to left field drove in Harper and Castellanos as Philadelphia cut the deficit to 5-3.

Realmuto pulled them level with two outs in the fifth, pouncing on a hanging breaking ball from Verlander for a double off the left field wall that scored Brandon Marsh and Kyle Schwarber.

Marsh had hit a double to open the inning and Schwarber was walked by Verlander.

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