FINAL: DODGERS 3, ASTROS 1
The Dodgers were able to get two runs off of Justin Verlander in the sixth inning, forcing the Astros to take the former Tigers ace out of the game.
That was all Los Angeles would need, as it walked away from Game 6 with a 3-1 win, tying the series at three games apiece and forcing the decisive Game 7 tomorrow back at Dodger Stadium.
Verlander tossed six strong innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out nine. He was pulled from the game after just 93 pitches because his spot was due up second in the seventh inning. With the Astros trailing, manager AJ Hinch didn't want to give up an out, opting to bench Verlander for a pinch-hitter, proving once again that National League rules need to go.
Joc Pederson provided some insurance for the Dodgers with a solo shot in the seventh, and Kenley Jansen was good for a six-out save.
In the ninth, Houston went down in order.
Bottom 8th: Dodgers 3, Astros 1
Luke Gregerson was the latest Astro to come out of the bullpen.
Charlie Culberson led off with a single to left field. Chris Taylor advanced the runner to second by grounding into a fielder's choice. With a man in scoring position, Gregerson got a big out by striking out Corey Seager, but a walk to Justin Turner saw Houston go back to its bullpen.
Insert: Former Minnesota Twin Francisco Liriano. He struck out Cody Bellinger to give the Astros one last chance.
Top 8th: Dodgers 3, Astros 1
Kenley Jansen got the call an inning early for what looks to be a six-out save situation.
Despite Jansen's struggles in this series, he got the job done in this eighth inning.
Carlos Correa flew out to left field, Yuli Gurriel fouled out and Brian McCann struck out swinging.
Bottom 7th: Dodgers 3, Astros 1
Joe Musgrove was the replacement for Justin Verlander in the seventh, and it didn't go so well
Joc Pederson hit a one-out home run to left field to give the Dodgers some insurance with a 3-1 lead.
I think we can safely question AJ Hinch taking Verlander out after just 93 pitches. That's National League baseball, though, and until Major League Baseball does the right thing for its players and its fans by putting the designated hitter into both leagues, this is what we're left with.
Top 7th: Dodgers 2, Astros 1
The Astros had their man and likely American League MVP Jose Altuve up with two outs and runners on the corners in the seventh.
Altuve wasn't able to deliver, grounding out to third to end the threat.
Tony Watson walked Josh Reddick, leading Dave Roberts to bring in Kenta Maeda. Evan Gattis hit the ball on the ground, but it was a slow-roller, and Gattis was able to beat the throw to first to avoid the double play. With one out, George Springer hit a ball deep in the hole at shortstop that Corey Seager made contact with but was never really in position to make a play on. With two men on, Alex Bregman flied out deep to center field, moving the runner on second up to third to set up the Altuve at-bat.
National League rules force out Verlander after six strong innings.
With his spot due up second in the seventh inning and the Astros not in a position to give away at-bats, Justin Verlander was pulled from the game after six strong innings.
Verlander's final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 93 pitches (65 strikes)
Bottom 6th: Dodgers 2, Astros 1
Austin Barnes delivered a leadoff single to left field, and that rattled Justin Verlander a bit, who hit Chase Utley in the next at-bat to put two men on for the Dodgers.
That's when Chris Taylor did his thing, dropping an RBI double into right field to tie the game, 1-1.
Verlander still has a mountain to climb with men on second and third and nobody out.
Corey Seager made a bid, but he came up just shy of a three-run homer on a ball caught at the back of the warning track. Nonetheless, it brought home the run from third to give L.A. a 2-1 lead.
With one out and a man on third, Verlander was able to get Justin Turner to foul out and Cody Bellinger to strike out swinging, minimizing the damage.
With his spot due up second in the seventh, it will be interesting to see if this is the end of the line for Verlander.
Top 6th: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
Yuli Gurriel notched a two-out single off of Brandon Morrow, and that was the end of the line for the Dodgers reliever. Tony Watson, a left-hander, got the call from the bullpen and promptly hit Brian McCann. Luckily for Los Angeles, Marwin Gonzalez's line drive was hit right at Chase Utley at second base for the final out of the inning.
Jose Altuve is 0-for-3 tonight after grounding out to third to leadoff the sixth.
Bottom 5th: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
Yasiel Puig flew out to right, Joc Pederson flew out to left and Logan Forsythe became Justin Verlander's eighth strikeout victim.
Verlander has still given up just one hit through the first five frames. He hasn't walked anybody, and his pitch count is in solid shape at 69.
Verlander is, quite possibly, in the middle of pitching the type of game in the type of situation that Tigers fans have dreamed about since 2006. Problem is, he's doing it for another team.
Top 5th: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
Brian McCann singled to right field and Marwin Gonzalez followed that up with a double to left field that gave Houston runners on second and third with nobody out. Rich Hill was able to pick up back-to-back strikeouts before the Dodgers decided to give a free pass to George Springer.
That's when Dave Roberts made a bold move, lifting Hill after just 58 pitches in favor of Brandon Morrow. Morrow made his manager look like a smart man, getting Alex Bregman to ground out to shortstop to end the frame.
Bottom 4th: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
Justin Verlander isn't showing any signs of slowing down as he chases a world championship tonight in Los Angeles.
The former Tigers ace struck out two more in the fourth inning to bring his total to seven tonight. His pitch count isn't in bad shape, either, sitting at 58.
Top 4th: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
Rich Hills is pitching well.
And the way Justin Verlander looks in the early going, he'll have to keep it up after falling behind by a run on George Springer's home run in the third inning.
Hill has thrown just 45 pitches through four frames, striking out three and giving up just two hits.
Bottom 3rd: Astros 1, Dodgers 0
Justin Verlander picked up two more strikeouts as he set the Dodgers down in order in the third inning.
Verlander now has five punch outs on 43 pitches. Los Angeles could be in trouble.
Top 3rd: Astros 1, Dodgers 0 (Springer goes deep)
After Justin Verlander struck out for the second out of the inning, George Springer picked him up with a solo home run to right field that gives Houston a 1-0 lead.
Rich Hill has thrown 33 pitches, notching three punch outs in the process.
Bottom 2nd: Astros 0, Dodgers 0
Yasiel Puig singled to center field with one out, but Justin Verlander wasn't about to let the inning snowball on him. He picked up his second strikeout of the inning by getting Joc Pederson looking, and the frame came to an end when Logan Forsythe flew out to center field.
Cody Bellinger struck out swinging to leadoff the inning.
Top 2nd: Astros 0, Dodgers 0
Houston couldn't help out Verlander in the second inning, as they went down in order against Rich Hill.
There have been a few times this postseason when the Astros bats have completely disappeared. The former ace of the Tigers is hoping tonight is not one of those nights.
Bottom 1st: Astros 0, Dodgers 0
Justin Verlander threw just seven pitches in the first inning, setting the Dodgers down in order while picking up a strikeout of Corey Seager.
That's not a good sign for L.A.
Top 1st: Astros 0, Dodgers 0
Alex Bregman delivered a one-out single to left field off of Dodgers starter Rich Hill. But after striking out Jose Altuve, Hill got out of the inning by getting Carlos Correa to ground out to third.
Up next: Must-see JV.
The stage is set for Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander is one start away from winning what he couldn't during his 13 seasons in Detroit.
The former Detroit Tigers ace takes the hill Tuesday night for the Houston Astros, who can claim their first World Series with a Game 6 victory against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. First pitch is at 8 p.m.
It would appear Houston has the right man for the job.
Verlander, who arrived in Houston via a deadline blockbuster in late August, has been unstoppable with the Astros. The right-hander won all five of his starts during the regular season, and is 4-0 in five postseason appearances, winning American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player honors along the way.
The Dodgers did nick him in his previous World Series start, touching him for three runs on a pair of home runs in six innings in Game 2, won by the Astros, 7-6, in 11 innings.
1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Yuli Gurriel, 1B
6. Brian McCann, C
7. Marwin Gonzalez, LF
8. Josh Reddick, RF
9. Justin Verlander, RHP
1. Chris Taylor, CF
2. Corey Seager, SS
3. Justin Turner, 3B
4. Cody Bellinger, 1B
5. Yasiel Puig, RF
6. Joc Pederson, LF
7. Logan Forsythe, 2B
8. Austin Barnes, C
9. Rich Hill, LHP