Na­tion­als seize com­mand of World Se­ries

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

HOUS­TON (AFP) — Pow­ered by a dev­as­tat­ing six-run sev­enth in­ning, the Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als seized com­mand of the World Se­ries by rout­ing Hous­ton 12-3 Wed­nes­day, mov­ing half­way to the U.S. cap­i­tal’s first ti­tle since 1924.

Kurt Suzuki, Adam Ea­ton and Michael Tay­lor smacked home runs, As­drubal Cabr­era drove in three runs and Stephen Stras­burg pitched six strong in­nings as the Na­tion­als grabbed a 2-0 edge in Ma­jor League Base­ball’s best-of­seven fi­nal.

Suzuki’s solo homer off Hous­ton’s Justin Ver­lan­der opened Wash­ing­ton’s sev­enth-in­ning fire­works and en­sured the 36-year-old Astros ace would re­main win­less after a sixth World Se­ries start.

“He doesn’t make many mis­takes and when you get a pitch to hit you can’t miss it,” Suzuki said.

The scene shifts to Wash­ing­ton for Fri­day’s game three, the first World Se­ries matchup in the US cap­i­tal for 86 years.

Of the past 18 teams to seize a 2-0 World Se­ries edge, 17 have won the ti­tle. Only three teams have dropped the first two at home and won the ti­tle — Kansas City in 1985, the New York Mets in 1986 and the New York Yan­kees in 1996.

“Clearly the Nats have out­played us, bot­tom line,” Astros man­ager A.J.

Hinch said. “They are half­way to a race to four wins. Clearly game three is very im­por­tant for us.

“I don’t think they are go­ing to be plan­ning the pa­rade. They know we’re go­ing to make them fight for it.”

The Na­tion­als, who have won eight games in a row and 18 of their past 20 games, be­gan play 50 years ago as the Mon­treal Ex­pos be­fore mov­ing to Wash­ing­ton for the 2005 sea­son.

Wash­ing­ton’s only World Se­ries crown came 95 years ago when the orig­i­nal Se­na­tors de­feated the New York Gi­ants in seven games. They would re­lo­cate to be­come the Min­nesota Twins in 1961 and a re­place­ment ver­sion would leave after the 1971 sea­son to be­come the Texas

Rangers.

The Na­tion­als could match the 1914 Bos­ton Braves as the only teams to win the World Se­ries after fall­ing 12 games be­low .500 dur­ing the sea­son.

“We’re here be­cause the boys never gave up,” Na­tion­als man­ager Dave John­son said.

Stras­burg, a 31-year-old righthande­r, struck out seven while al­low­ing only two runs on seven hits and a walk in im­prov­ing to 4-0 in the play­offs.

Ver­lan­der took the loss for Hous­ton, his fourth in six World Se­ries starts, and fell to 1-4 in this year’s play­offs.

The game was dead­locked 2-2 en­ter­ing the sev­enth when the Na­tion­als hum­bled the fa­vored Astros with un­likely heroes.

Suzuki blasted a solo homer off Ver­lan­der to open the sev­enth. The Astros lifted the 36-year-old righthande­r after he walked Vic­tor Robles.

Hous­ton re­liever Ryan Pressly walked Trea Turner, Ea­ton ad­vanced the run­ners on a bunt sac­ri­fice and Juan Soto was is­sued

Hous­ton’s first in­ten­tional walk of the year to load the bases.

Then the Na­tion­als, the most pro­lific scor­ing team when down to their fi­nal out in an in­ning, made the magic hap­pen again with dev­as­tat­ing re­sults.

Howie Ken­drick, hit­less against Ver­lan­der, chopped an in­field sin­gle to short­stop to score Robles for a 4-2 lead, keep­ing the bases loaded.

Cabr­era, who struck out in three ear­lier at bats, sin­gled to cen­ter­field to drive in Turner and Soto for a 6-2 Wash­ing­ton lead.

Ryan Zim­mer­man sin­gled to third and a throw­ing er­ror by Hous­ton’s Alex Breg­man al­lowed both Ken­drick and Cabr­era to score, boost­ing the Nats’ lead to 8-2 be­fore Press­ley was re­moved and Josh James ended the in­ning.

The on­slaught wasn’t over. Robles struck out in the eighth but reached first after catcher Martin Mal­don­ado dropped the third strike. Ea­ton then blasted a two-run homer. Soto walked and later scored on a Cabr­era sin­gle for an 11-2 Na­tion­als lead and Tay­lor added a solo homer in the ninth.

AP-Yonhap

Wash­ing­ton Na­tion­als’ Kurt Suzuki hits a home run dur­ing the sev­enth in­ning of Game 2 of the base­ball World Se­ries against the Hous­ton Astros, Wed­nes­day, in Hous­ton.

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