Alex Bregman smashed a grand slam home run and Jose Urquidy threw five scoreless innings Saturday as the Houston Astros ripped Washington 8-1 to pull level in the World Series.
Bregman blasted a towering ball that curled just inside the left-field pole off Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney in the seventh inning to give the Astros their final margin as they equalized Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final at 2-2.
“I was just trying to hit the ball in the air and drive in a run and I ended up driving in four,” Bregman said. “What a great team win. We did a great job today coming out and applying pressure.”
Urquidy allowed only two hits while striking out four, the 24-year-old Mexican right-hander tossing 45 of his 67 pitches for strikes to baffle Washington batters.
The host Nationals will start game-one winner Max Scherzer in game five Sunday against Houston’s Gerrit Cole, whose loss in the opener was his first defeat since May after a 19-0 run in 25 starts over five months.
“We haven’t hit the last couple days but I have confidence we will bounce back and get some big hits tomorrow,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said.
“We can’t do nothing to change what has happened. Let’s get ready for tomorrow. Don’t think ahead of the next game. Focus on the here and now.”
Game six will be Tuesday in Houston, where game seven will be played Wednesday if needed.
The Astros, seeking a second title in three seasons, are trying to become only the fourth club to drop the first two games at home and rally to win the World Series.
The Nationals are trying to win the first title in the club’s 50-year history and the first crown for Washington since 1924.
“This is what it’s all about. It’s a beautiful thing — two teams battling it out,” Bregman said. “We got great pitching, great offense. Has been fun so far, want to keep it rolling.”
Bregman became the first third baseman to drive in five runs in a World Series game.
Chirinos homers again
Houston seized a 2-0 lead in the first inning on consecutive singles by Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Bregman and Yuli Gurriel but Robinson Chirinos hit into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play to limit the damage for the Nats.
Chirinos redeemed himself in the fourth when, after Carlos Correa walked, he smashed a two-run homer into the left-field stands for a 4-0 Astros lead.
It was the third playoff homer and second round-tripper of the World Series for the 35-year-old Venezuelan catcher.
Urquidy, only the third Mexican-born starter in World Series history and the first right-hander from his homeland, silenced Washington bats early.
But when the Astros removed him in the sixth inning, Washington battled back.
Astros reliever Josh James walked Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton before being replaced by Will Harris, who surrendered an infield single to Anthony Rendon to load the bases.
Juan Soto grounded out to first base to drive in Parra with the only Nationals run, but Harris struck out Howie Kendrick to end the inning.
Houston responded in the seventh when Kyle Tucker walked, took second on a walk to George Springer and third on a Brantley single that loaded the bases for Bregman’s four-run blast.
Washington only managed one hit after that over the last three innings, although left fielder Soto denied a final Astros run by throwing out Chirinos at the plate in the ninth.