HOUSTON — From all appearances, the Astros’ dramatic 11-inning victory in an epic Game 2 seemed to completely swing the momentum of the World Series.
“I’d love to say it’s going to spill over, and it might,” Houston manager A.J. Hinch said late Friday afternoon. “We’ve gone on some incredible offensive explosions this season. We have the best offensive team in the league for a reason. I think it can be that way. But it depends on how Darvish is pitching.”
That would be righthander Yu Darvish, the Dodgers’ key trade deadline acquisition, who had been all his new team could have hoped.
Until Friday night.
In a train wreck of an outing, Darvish lasted only 1 2⁄3 innings, allowing four runs in the second inning that propelled the Astros to a 5-3 Game 3 victory in front of 43,282 fans who rocked Minute Maid Park from start to finish.
“The fastball command wasn’t there and the slider was backing up,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose team trails in a series for the first time this postseason. “He just really didn’t have the feel and couldn’t get any type of rhythm going.”
Houston, which improved to 7-0 at home this postseason, leads the best-of-seven series two games to one, with Games 4 and 5 here Saturday and Sunday nights.
“It’s not easy to play on the road for any team,” Astros leadoff man George Springer said. “This place is loud, this place is wild. There’s 40,000-plus on top of you. It’s a different vibe, I would think, for a lot of teams.”
Darvish, 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA with the Dodgers, including 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA in his final three regular-season starts, allowed four runs and six hits. He walked one and did not strike out a batter.
Astros righthander Lance McCullers Jr., who pitched four scoreless innings in relief against the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS, allowed three runs, four hits and four walks in 5 1⁄3 innings. Righthander Brad Peacock threw 3 2⁄3 scoreless innings in relief for the save. Peacock is the first reliever since 1984 to get at least 11 outs while allowing only one baserunner, according to baseball-reference.com.
Said Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, “He was the MVP of the game.”
Yuli Gurriel, hot all postseason, had two hits, including a homer in the second. After the blast, he was caught on camera on the bench making what appeared to be a gesture mocking Darvish’s Japanese heritage.
“I know he’s remorseful,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Gurriel, 18-for-53 this postseason after going 2-for-5 Friday, led off the second by crushing a 2-and-1 fastball over the leftfield wall to put the Astros on the board. Josh Reddick sliced a 0-and-1 cutter to the opposite field to left for a double. After Evan Gattis walked, Marwin Gonzalez launched a 1-and-2 slider high off the wall in left-center for a long RBI single and a 2-0 lead.
Brian McCann singled to make it 3-0 and put runners at the corners. George Springer lined out to second, but Alex Bregman smoked a drive right at centerfielder Chris Taylor for a sacrifice fly that made it 4-0.
Jose Altuve then ripped one off the wall in left-center, and only McCann’s lack of speed kept him from scoring. Roberts had seen enough, yanking Darvish in favor of righthander Kenta Maeda, who got Correa on a fly to right.
The Dodgers came right back as McCullers lost his command, walking Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez and Taylor to load the bases.
Arguably the game’s key sequence followed when Corey Seager hit a grounder to first, with Gurriel starting an impressive 3-6-1 double play. A run scored to make it 4-1, but Justin Turner grounded to short to end the inning.
A Dodgers error led to a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Los Angeles scored twice in the sixth to make it 5-3.
Peacock made it stick, and Hinch, whose relievers looked mostly awful in the ALCS, had no reservations about riding the righthander.
“I love our bullpen, and our bullpen is going to get outs, but this is a race to 27 outs with a lead,” Hinch said. “When a guy is doing his job, there’s only so much explanation I need to give.”