2022 World Series Game 2: Valdez dominates as Astros even series
Framber Valdez delivers a pitch during Game 2/Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are back in the 2022 World Series following a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Minute Maid Park.

Framber Valdez allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings and the Houston offense jumped on Philadelphia starter Zack Wheeler early, scoring three runs in the first inning.

Wheeler, who sported a 1.78 ERA through his first four postseason starts, was tagged for five runs in five innings, four of them earned.

The Astros responded after blowing a five-run lead in Game 1 with ace Justin Verlander on the mound. 

"It was a punch in the face", center fielder Chas McCormack said. "Maybe we needed it."

Jose Altuve, who began the playoffs in an 0 for 25 slump, had three hits, including a double to key Houston's three-run first inning and has four hits in his last 12 at-bats.

"Early in the playoffs, I was swinging at everything and then getting slowly better at swinging at my pitch", he said. "Yeah, I got hit on a pitch almost above my head today. But it's a hit, so it's good."

Houston jumps on Wheeler early, cruises to Game 2 victory

Altuve drove the first pitch from Wheeler down the left-field line for a double. Jeremy Pena drove him in with a double, also to left. Two pitches later, Yordan Alvarez brought Pena home with a double off the scoreboard in left.

"That was the plan - to attack him early", Alvarez said through a translator. "He likes to attack hitters early in counts, but we have a lot of good hitters."

The Astros became the first team in World Series history to begin a game with three consecutive extra-base hits. It also marked the first time in postseason history that a team notched three extra-base hits within the first four pitches of a game.

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"It's kind of everybody's gameplan against me to be really aggressive and just try to get that first pitch or hop on the fastball", Wheeler said. "I kind of expected that. But to swing at the first two pitches? It is what it is. I just need to execute better."

"Everything's hard", McCormack said of Wheeler's repertoire. "We can hit hard."

Houston made it 3-0 after a throwing error by Phillies shortstop Edmundo Sosa and in the fourth, Alex Bregman launched a two-run home run to stretch the lead to 5-0.

In the top of the sixth, Philadelphia put the first two men on, but Valdez struck out Game 1 hero J.T. Realmuto and got NLCS MVP Bryce Harper to hit into an inning-ending double play.

Through three postseason starts, Valdez has a 1.42 ERA and set a major league record with 25 quality starts during the regular season.

"This guy has been as consistent as any pitcher that i've ever had through the course of the year, and he just continued to do the same thing during the playoffs", said Astros manager Dusty Baker. "He gets big outs and makes big pitches."

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