Astros top Phillies in Game 5 of World Series behind Jeremy Peña, earn Justin Verlander long-awaited win

Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña made two key runs and veteran ace Justin Verlander dumped five innings as the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Philles, 3-2, in Game 5 of the World Series Thursday night . Verlander’s first career World Series victory puts the Astros on the cusp of the second core championship, and the first since the sign-stealing scandal.

A night after Cristian Javier and company pitched a no-hitter, Verlander…didn’t. He gave up a home run to Phillies leadoff hitter Kyle Schwarber, then struggled through the second and third innings. At times, it looked like Cy Young’s likely winner wouldn’t come out second. But he got out of every sticky spot and went through five before putting it back in the Astros bullpen.

A playoff staple, Verlander was 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts. He earned a no-decision in Game 1 of this series after spitting a five-point lead.

Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena celebrates his home run in the fourth inning of Game 5 of the World Series.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña celebrates his home run in the fourth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Astros defense saves the day

Dominant throughout the series, the Houston relievers needed spectacular defensive help this time.

Forced into action at first base when Yuli Gurriel came out with an injury sustained during a rundown, the Astros’ Trey Mancini found himself in for a huge moment.

As the Phillies staged a rally in the eighth, he landed a blistering ground ball from Kyle Schwarber’s bat that would have brought the tying run from the third, and could even have scored a shot from the first. In the ninth inning, center fielder and Philadelphia native Chas McCormick made a dazzling catch as he leapt into the fence to take extra bases from JT Realmuto.

In the end, Dusty Baker got five outs from closer Ryan Pressly.

Altuve, Peña go up the Astros range

The Astros’ two best hitters carried the offense. Continuing his excellent first inning in the playoffs, Peña scored a single on Houston’s first inning in the first, then homered in the fourth. José Altuve spent the night setting the table for him. Completely out of his October slump, Altuve had two hits, walked and scored two runs.

The Astros will return to Houston with a championship on the table. Friday will be a day off — MLB kept it on the schedule after the Game 3 rain — and Game 6 is Saturday night. Framber Valdez will go for the title while the Phillies hand the ball to Zack Wheeler.

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