Houston Astros

World Series: Bellinger wakes up Dodgers, who tie Series at 2 games apiece

ap-cody-bellinger-world-series-game-4.jpg
AP Images

World Series: Bellinger wakes up Dodgers, who tie Series at 2 games apiece

HOUSTON — Cody Bellinger pulled into second base with his first World Series hit and said: "It's a miracle!"

With the Dodgers three innings from falling into a deep deficit, the rookie slugger sparked a late comeback that stopped the Houston Astros' surge.

Hitless in 13 at-bats, Bellinger doubled and scored the tying run in the seventh inning, then doubled home the go-ahead run off struggling closer Ken Giles in a five-run ninth that lifted Los Angeles to a 6-2 win Saturday night and tied the Series at two games apiece.

George Springer put the Astros ahead with a two-out homer in the sixth, the first hit off Los Angeles starter Alex Wood. The crowd at Minute Maid Park, where the Astros had been 7-0 this postseason, was revved up in anticipation of the Astros having a chance to win the first title in their 56-season history on Sunday.

Instead, the Series will go back to Los Angeles no matter what. Clayton Kershaw starts Game 5 for the Dodgers on Sunday night and Dallas Keuchel for the Astros in a rematch of the opener, when Kershaw pitched Los Angeles to a 3-1 win.

Bellinger, a 22-year-old bopper who set a National League rookie record with 39 home runs this season, struck out four times in Game 3 and once more in the fifth inning -- his eighth whiff of the Series.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts expressed faith Friday night in Bellinger and again Saturday afternoon.

Bellinger doubled over left fielder Marwin Gonzalez, chasing starter Charlie Morton, and came home on Logan Forsythe's two-out single off Will Harris.

Giles entered to start the ninth and got into immediate trouble, allowing a leadoff single to Corey Seager and a walk to Justin Turner. Bellinger took a low slider, then lined a fastball at the letters to left-center. He raised a hand rounding first and clapped his hands half a dozen times in excitement after sliding into second.

Joe Musgrove relieved and allowed Austin Barnes' sacrifice fly and Joc Pederson's three-run homer, his second home run of the Series.

Wood, Brandon Morrow, winner Tony Watson and Kenley Jansen combined on a two-hitter. Jansen allowed Alex Bregman's two-out homer in the ninth, the 14th home run of the Series.

Giles, the loser, was charged with three runs -- he has allowed runs in six of seven postseason appearances.

Gurriel banned 5 games in 2018 for racist gesture at Darvish

usa-yuli-gurriel-astros.jpg
USA Today Images

Gurriel banned 5 games in 2018 for racist gesture at Darvish

HOUSTON — Yuli Gurriel will have to sit out for making a racist gesture toward Yu Darvish -- but not during the World Series.

Major League Baseball suspended the Houston Astros first baseman on Saturday for the first five games next season. The punishment came a day after Gurriel's actions toward the Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher during Game 3.

"I understand that people may have different views," Commissioner Rob Manfred said. "But it was my best judgment that this timing was appropriate."

"I wanted the burden of this discipline to fall primarily on the wrongdoer," he said.

The Cuban-born Gurriel pulled on the corners of his eyes after homering off Darvish during Houston's 5-3 win Friday night. He also used a derogatory Spanish term in reference to Darvish, who was born in Japan.

"I made an offensive gesture that was indefensible," Gurriel said in a statement released by the Astros. "I sincerely apologize to everyone that I offended with my actions. I deeply regret it."

"I would particularly like to apologize to Yu Darvish, a pitcher that I admire and respect. I would also like to apologize to the Dodgers organization, the Astros, Major League Baseball and to all fans across the game," he said.

Gurriel said Friday that he wanted to meet with Darvish to express his regret. Manfred said there would be a private apology.

Gurriel will lose $322,581 of his $12 million salary next year, which the Astros will donate to charitable causes. He also will be required to undergo sensitivity training during the offseason.

Immediately after the game, Darvish said he was angry.

"Acting like that, you just disrespect all the people around the world," he said in Japanese through a translator.

Darvish later tweeted "let's stay positive and move forward instead of focusing on anger."

Gurriel drew cheers when he batted in the second inning of Game 4 on Saturday night. He grounded into a double play.

The 33-year-old Gurriel played in Japan in 2014 and is completing his second season in the major leagues after leaving Cuba.

Darvish was born to a Japanese mother and an Iranian father. The four-time All-Star played professionally in Japan from 2005-11 before joining the Texas Rangers in 2012. He was sent to the Dodgers at this year's July 31 trade deadline.

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said the team was "surprised and disappointed" by Gurriel's behavior and supported Manfred's decision.

"Yuli has always demonstrated respectful behavior and is extremely remorseful for his actions," Luhnow said. "Appropriately, Yuli has apologized for his gesture. He had no intention of offending anyone, but now recognizes the perceived offensiveness of his actions."

MLB suspended two players this season for using slurs. Toronto's Kevin Pillar and Oakland's Matt Joyce each were banned two games this season after making anti-gay comments. In 2012, Toronto infielder Yunel Escobar was penalized three games for a gay slur.

"That precedent is not adequate to deal with the current situation," Manfred said. "I've decided to go beyond that precedent as a statement of our disapproval of this behavior."

Manfred said he was "impressed in my conversation with Yu Darvish by his desire to move forward, and I felt that moving the suspension to the beginning of the season would help in that regard."

Said Manfred: "There is no place in our game for the behavior or any behavior like the behavior we witnessed last night."

"There is no excuse or explanation that makes that type of behavior acceptable," he said.

By imposing a penalty Gurriel and the players' union agreed not to contest, Manfred avoided a possible grievance hearing in the next few days before arbitrator Mark Irvings that would have taken attention away from the World Series.

Gurriel will be put on the restricted list next season, meaning the Astros can replace him and play with a 25-man roster.

Manfred would not compare Gurriel's actions with the Cleveland Indians' decision to keep using their Chief Wahoo logo, which has been criticized by Native Americans and others.

"I see a difference between behavior from one player directed specifically at a player and a logo," he said. "While both are problematic, I don't see them as the same issue. We continue to have conversations with the Indians about the logo, and it's an issue I intend to deal with in the offseason."

World Series: Astros start fast, top Dodgers for 2-1 lead

ap-lance-mccullers-astros-ws.jpg
AP Images

World Series: Astros start fast, top Dodgers for 2-1 lead

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON — A perfect fit in their own place, the Houston Astros are halfway home.

George Springer and the Astros broke out the bats early this time and kept up their big run at Minute Maid Park in October, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Friday night for a 2-1 lead in the World Series.

The ballpark was booming from the start, with cheers, chants and a train whistle echoing beneath the closed roof. Deep in the heart of football country, a sellout crowd stood much of the evening. And with every Houston batter getting a hit or walk, fans enjoyed the Friday Night Sights.

"The energy in the building is second to none," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's loud. They're loud from the very beginning."

Yuli Gurriel homered to begin a four-run burst in the second inning that sent Yu Darvish to the shortest start of his career. Astros curveballer Lance McCullers Jr. wobbled, but protected the lead into the sixth.

Brad Peacock rose to the occasion with 3 2/3 innings of hitless relief to put the Astros two wins from their first championship.

Coming off a dramatic rally to win Game 2 at Dodger Stadium, the Astros improved to 7-0 at home this postseason. Jose Altuve & Co. have dominated, too, outscoring the Red Sox, Yankees and Dodgers 36-10 in that span.

"We're very comfortable here," Hinch said.

Springer lined a leadoff double in the first and the Astros went on to win a home game for the first time in the World Series. They were swept by the White Sox in 2005, and this win left them two victories from a most elusive championship.

Game 4 will be Saturday night when Charlie Morton starts for Houston. Left-hander Alex Wood pitches for the Dodgers, facing a lineup that has put at least one runner on in 14 straight innings.

"Obviously, this crowd is into it. Very educated, very enthusiastic," Dodgers manager Dave Robert said. "They've got some confidence over there, that team."

McCullers left in the sixth as Los Angeles scored twice to cut into a 5-1 deficit. Peacock followed, and shouldered the load for a shaky bullpen by posting his first save in 11 years of pro ball. The right-hander was nearly perfect, walking one and striking out four.

"It was awesome," said Peacock, who made 21 starts and 13 relief appearances during the regular season. "I've never experienced anything like that in my life."

Coupled with four shutout innings from McCullers to finish off the Yankees in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series, the unconventional Astros became the first team to have two saves of three-plus innings in one postseason.

On a night when a lot went right for Houston, also credit third base coach Gary Pettis, who's been having quite a postseason. He boldly sent Josh Reddick careening home on a wild throw by reliever Tony Watson for a two-out run in the fifth.

The Astros rode the momentum of a thrilling victory Wednesday night in Los Angeles, where Marwin Gonzalez hit a tying homer in the ninth on an 0-2 pitch from star closer Kenley Jansen, and Houston went deep three times in extra innings before hanging on to win 7-6 in 11.

Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger almost won that game with a drive that was caught on the warning track in the ninth. He fanned all four times up in Game 3, leaving him 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts in the Series.

"I think he's just in that funk right now where he's chasing balls out of the strike zone," Roberts said.

This game wasn't nearly as dramatic, not that the home crowd minded.

Fans were revved up from the start when injured Houston Texas defensive end J.J. Watt -- who has raised more than $37 million for relief efforts after Hurricane Harvey -- wobbled out to the mound on crutches to throw the first ball.

Soon, it was time for the Houston hitters to take over.

Gurriel homered into the Crawford Boxes in left to begin the second -- he became the 13th hitter already to homer in this Series. Reddick followed with a double and Evan Gattis, the designated hitter with the game in an American League park, drew a walk.

Gonzalez launched a drive off the wall in left and wound up with an RBI single when Gattis held at second, seeing if the ball would be caught. Brian McCann singled home another run with one of his three hits, and Alex Bregman's sacrifice fly made it 4-0.

When Altuve doubled, Darvish was done after 1 2/3 innings. He threw 49 pitches and the Astros swung and missed only once.

Darvish had done well at Minute Maid, going 4-1. That included a 2013 start when he was one out from a perfect game for the Rangers before Gonzalez singled.

"The fastball command wasn't there, and the slider was backing up. So he just really didn't have the feel and couldn't get any type of rhythm going," Roberts said.

Last month, Darvish and several Dodgers players wore Houston Strong T-shirts to raise money for hurricane relief. The four-time All-Star who previously played in Texas also contributed to the relief efforts.

On Thursday, Darvish kidded that maybe his goodwill would lead to good luck.

"Since I made that donation, maybe I can use a ball that doesn't have much pop in it," he said through a translator.

Nope, didn't quite work out that way.