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Houston Astros win 5-2 in even series

HOUSTON — Framber Valdez blew a five-run lead after Houston’s first-inning blitz, Alex Bregman homered and the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 on Saturday night to even the World Series at one game apiece .

Just like in Game 1, the Astros jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Unlike Justin Verlander’s ace in Game 1, Valdez and the Astros held on.

Valdez bounced back from a pair of bad outings in last year’s series to throw the ball in the seventh and the bullpen worked through a few jams to get things done.

“Framber did a great job,” said Jose Altuve, who snapped a 4-for-37 postseason slump with three hits. “Just an amazing performance by him and our bullpen as well.”

Altuve, Jeremy Peña and Jordan Alvarez each doubled as the Astros took a two-run lead in four innings against Zack Wheeler. A throwing error by shortstop Edmund Sosa allowed another run in the first, and Bregman added a two-run homer in the fifth.

A day after returning for a 6-5 victory in 10 inningsPhyllis tried to rally in this too.

With the Phillies trailing by four runs, Kyle Schwarber hit a shot deep down the right-field line with a man on in the eighth against Rafael Mantero, who initially guided a two-run homer by right fielder James Hoy.

First base umpire Tripp Gibson initially signaled to the umpires for a conference call, and the team was overruled on review when the ball was determined to be on the foul side of the pole.

Schwarber, who led the NL with 46 home runs this season and added three more in the playoffs, then hit a long drive that was caught off the right field wall.

Ryan Pressley capped the six-hitter by giving up a run on an error by first baseman Yuli Gurriel on Brandon Marsh’s groundout.

After a split in Houston, the streak resumes Monday night when the streak hosts Citizens Bank Park for the first time since 2009.

Of the 61 previous 1-1 series ties, the winner of Game 2 has won the title 31 times — but only four of the last 14.

After struggling to a 19.29 ERA in a pair of starts in last year’s six-game loss to the Atlanta Braves, Valdes pitched with brilliance and poise. His cheeks glistening with sweat, the 28-year-old left-hander struck out nine and walked three while striking out four in 6 ⅓ innings.

He hit batters with a fastball averaging 95.6 mph and baffled them with his curveball, which resulted in six strikeouts — three of them walks. Unusually, he changed his gauntlet and spikes.

Astros players celebrate a 5-2 victory against the Phillies in Game 2 of the World Series on Saturday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

With the Phillies’ only time with two runners against him in the sixth, Valdez struck out Game 1 hero Jay T. Realmuth with a hot shot and then got Bryce Harper to ground out on the first pitch into an inning-ending double play.

“His sinker was fantastic. His curveball was pretty good, Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “His suggestions were good.”

Thomson didn’t notice Valdez rubbing his palm – social media was abuzz wondering if there was any substance there.

“The umpires check on these guys after almost every pitch, and if something happens in MLB, they’ll take care of it,” Thomson said. “We saw that last time he started as well.”

Nick Castellanos led off the Phillies in the seventh with a double and Valdez retired after the run with a runner on. Montero allowed Jean Segura’s sacrifice fly to the warning track in left.

A day after the stunning loss, the Astros came out swinging and became the first team to open a game in a series with three straight extra-base hits.

Altuve hit a sinker to left and Peña hit a curveball into the left field corner for a 1-0 lead. Alvarez was fouled out of bounds and drove a slider high off the 19-foot wall in left.

“Actually, I was aiming for fourth,” Baker said. “Try to score as many runs as possible. Because you know Wheeler is one of the toughest guys in baseball.”

Wheeler should have escaped with only a 2-0 lead, but shortstop Edmund Sosa made his throw to first on an error into Gurriel’s three bunker, the ball flying off the mitt of first baseman Rhys Hoskins.

Bregman, healthy after two injury-plagued seasons, hit a two-run homer to left in the fifth when Wheeler left a slider over the middle of the plate. Bregman has six career homers and three this postseason with nine RBI.

Alex Bregman from

Wheeler gave up five runs — four earned — on six hits and three walks in five innings, a day after Aaron Nola struggled.

“I think everybody deserves a bad start every now and then,” Thomson said. “Those guys have been so good for us for so long and I fully expect them to come back and be ready to go and do well for us.”


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