2022 World Series Game 5: Verlander gets first Fall Classic win; Mancini, McCormack defensive gems put Phillies on brink
Martin Maldonado (l.), Trey Mancini (c.) and Ryan Pressly (r.) celebrate after the Astros Game 5 victory/Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Houston Astros are a win away from the second championship in franchise history following a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park.

Justin Verlander, 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight career World Starts, pitched five innings for the win and Jeremy Pena homered and drove in two.

"I can say I got one", Verlander exclaimed.

Key defensive plays by Trey Mancini in the eighth and Chas McCormack in the ninth helped seal the win. The Astros can win the title on Saturday night in Houston.

"There's going to be a lot of energy in our park", said manager Dusty Baker, who is on the verge of a first championship in 25 years as a big-league manager.

A Game 5 win is usually pivotal with 31 of the previous 47 Game 5 winners going on to win the Fall Classic with the series tied 2-2.

"I think it matters that we've already won there this series", said Philadelphia first baseman Rhys Hoskins. "Should give us a little more confidence."

Pitching with an extra day of rest, Verlander allowed just a run on four hits with four walks and six strikeouts. 

How the Astros won Game 5

Houston was in front almost immediately against Phillies righthander Noah Syndergaard. Pena drove in a run with a single, but Kyle Schwarber tied the game with a solo shot, his fifth long ball of the playoffs.

"It just sucks because of the moment and obviously all the questions and weight", Verlander said. "But you have to rely on the hundreds of starts and the thousands of pitches i've thrown before and just kind of say 'OK, I've given up leadoff home runs before. Let me bear down.'"

In the bottom of the second, a Jean Segura single and pair of walks loaded the bases, but Verlander escaped by striking out Hoskins on a slider after a visit by pitching coach Bill Murphy.

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"It was kind of a tricky thing because my first start, my slider and curveball was what I got hurt on most", Verlander said. "Once we started leaning on them a little bit, it was almost like testing the water, sticking your foot in the pool and seeing how cold it is."

Bryce Harper, who saw 17 fastballs from Verlander, doubled with two outs in the fifth to bring up Nick Castellanos. Baker left the future Hall of Famer in to face the Philadelphia right fielder.

"He's been one of the best of getting out of trouble and, to me, that was his game", Baker said. "Who can you bring in that's better than the guy out there?"

An epic ten-pitch at-bat followed and after showing him just about his entire arsenal of pitches, Verlander got Castellanos to fly out to short left field to end the threat.

"It's a game of centimeters", Castellanos said. "If i'm on top of that ball a little bit more, we're in a different situation."

Pena's solo homer in the fourth put the Astros in front 2-1 and he set up the third run with an eighth-inning single, eventually coming around to score on Yordan Alvarez's groundout.

Segura cut it to 3-2 with an RBI single off of Rafael Montero in the bottom of the eighth and with a runner on third, Schwarber hit a rocket that Mancini fell into foul territory for and reached back with his left foot to touch the bag.

"I just tackled it, basically", he said.

In the ninth, Ryan Pressly, who got the final two outs of the eighth, put a man on in the ninth and with one out, watched as McCormack make a leaping backhand catch against the chain-link fence in front of the right-center scoreboard on a drive by J.T. Realmuto.

"I was going to run through a wall and catch it no matter what", McCormack said.

Harper was hit by a pitch and Pressly retired Castellanos on a bouncer to Pena to end the three-hour, 57-minute marathon.

"Zero complacency", said Verlander. "We've been in this situation before. You can see how quickly momentum can change in this game."

Valdez, Wheeler take the mound for Game 6

In a rematch of Game 6, Zack Wheeler will get the ball for Philadelphia while Framber Valdez takes the hill for Houston.

Valdez was the winning pitcher in a 5-2 Astros win, allowing one run and four hits over 6 1/3 innings while Wheeler was tagged for five runs and three walks over five innings.

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