World Series Game 3: Astros hold off Dodgers to take 2-1 series lead

Jeff Passan
MLB columnist

HOUSTON – One after another, the balls left the bats of the Houston Astros at more than 100 mph. The deluge arrived in the second inning, and Game 3 of the World Series, the perfect time for Yu Darvish to showcase his bona fides before he hits free agency this winter, devolved into a disaster for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

By the end of it, the Astros had piled up four runs, all they would need in an eventual 5-3 victory Friday night that gave them a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series. Darvish, the Dodgers’ big trade-deadline acquisition, turned in the shortest start of his career, lasting just five outs before a mercy yanking from manager Dave Roberts.

The onslaught started with a Yuli Gurriel home run, followed by a double, walk, single off the center-field wall, single, two hard-hit outs and another double. Five of them screamed off the bat at 99 mph-plus, and with just one swing and miss among his 49 pitches, Darvish looked nothing like the guy who hopes to rake in $175 million this winter.

Houston Astros’ George Springer celebrates after a double against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning of Game 3 of baseball’s World Series Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, in Houston. (AP)

The Astros, meanwhile, remained undefeated in seven postseason games at Minute Maid Park, where 43,282 hooted and hollered as Houston’s balsa-wood bullpen finally held together. After starter Lance McCullers Jr. exited in the fifth inning, Brad Peacock allowed both runners he inherited to score, cutting the Astros’ lead to 5-3. For the next three innings, Peacock stifled the Dodgers, earning his first career save.

Among his four strikeouts was Cody Bellinger, whom he fitted for a golden sombrero to end the eighth inning. Bellinger’s four strikeouts exacerbated his struggles in the World Series, which deepened alongside his team’s fortunes. The Dodgers’ combination of sloppy fielding, mediocre hitting and a miserable start from Darvish not only put them in a hole but taxed their bullpen before the Game 4 start of Alex Wood, who went more than six innings only five of his 25 starts – and none since mid-August.

While the Dodgers do have Clayton Kershaw ready to pitch on full rest in Game 5, they face the daunting task of beating the Astros at Minute Maid, where they are outscoring opponents 36-10 this postseason.