HOUSTON -- Young sluggers Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson, one slumping this Series and the other slumping this season, found redemption Saturday night, keying a late-innings barrage that gave the Dodgers a 6-2 comeback win over the Astros and deadlocked the best-of-seven World Series at two games each.
Bellinger, 0-for-13 with eight strikeouts in the first 3 1/2 games, laced a pair of doubles, the second one in a five-run ninth inning giving the Dodgers the lead. Pederson, a Minor Leaguer in parts of August and September and left off the National League Division Series roster, tomahawked a high Joe Musgrove fastball for a three-run homer to blow open a game that began as a pitchers' duel between Los Angeles' Alex Wood, who had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings, and Houston's Charlie Morton, who didn't allow a run until Bellinger's first double in the seventh inning. Wood's was the longest no-hit bid in Dodgers postseason history, and L.A.'s staff allowed only two hits, both homers.
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The Dodgers can take control of the Series in Game 5 on Sunday, when they will send ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound with a chance to take a 3-2 Series lead heading into Game 6 on Tuesday in Los Angeles. The Astros will counter with fellow lefty Dallas Keuchel in a pivotal matchup.
"I can't wait," Houston third baseman Alex Bregman said. "I know everyone in here wishes the game was right now. We want to go back out there and play and -- I don't know if redeem ourselves is the right word -- but we want to go back out there and play right now. This is the World Series. This is going to be a dogfight."
Ken Giles, who has allowed a run in six of seven postseason outings this year, started the ninth inning of a tied game and allowed a single to Corey Seager and a walk to Justin Turner before Bellinger put the Dodgers ahead with the RBI double -- marking the first time the Astros had trailed at home in the postseason in 71 innings. It also was Houston's first loss in eight games at Minute Maid Park this postseason.
"They play real well here," said Pederson. "To show we can come in here and play our baseball is important to all of us in here, and it will be a big game tomorrow."
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Pederson's long homer to right off Musgrove four batters later pushed the lead to 6-1.
"The Pederson pitch is right where I wanted it -- fastball up out of the zone," said Musgrove. "He just beat me to it. That's baseball. You get away with plenty of fastballs down the middle that guys foul off. You throw one up out of the zone where you want, and they beat you. I'd be more upset if I threw it down the middle, and he hit it out."
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The only two hits the Astros managed were homers -- by George Springer in the sixth and Bregman in the ninth. Pederson, who spent time in the Minor Leagues fighting out of an offensive slump, was serving as designated hitter for the second consecutive game. He pretty much went crazy rounding the bases.
"I was just trying to do my best Big Papi impression," he joked, referring to former Red Sox great David Ortiz.
Teams that have won Game 4 to tie any World Series have gone on to win the Series 24 of 44 times, including three of the past four in that scenario (2014 Giants, '13 Red Sox, '03 Marlins).
"They're two pretty good teams," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said. "I don't think that's overstating anything, so it probably doesn't surprise a ton of people that's it 2-2. How the games have gone, where we've won or where they've won can always be debated. These are big games. Every game feels like a Game 5 or a Game 6."
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Wood, lacking command pitching for only the second time in 32 days but making big pitches, held the Astros without a hit through 5 2/3 innings. But with Brandon Morrow warming up in the bullpen, manager Dave Roberts let Wood face Springer for the third time in the game and he blasted a homer to left to give Houston a 1-0 lead and ignite the crowd. Springer became the first player to break up a World Series no-hit bid with a homer in the sixth inning or later.
"Woody set the tone for us and was just outstanding tonight," said Roberts.
Morton gave up a leadoff single to Chris Taylor, who was thrown out trying to steal to end the first, and then retired the next 14 batters he faced, pumping the ball down down in the zone consistently. He was pulled after giving up a one-out double in the seventh to Bellinger, who scored the tying run on a John Forsythe single off Will Harris. Forsythe is erasing a tough regular season by going 8-for-26 in the postseason with four RBIs and eight runs scored.
"When we had two guys on against Giles in the ninth, I felt we had a chance," said Forsythe, reflecting the Dodgers' pre-Series notion that if they keep games close early, they have an edge in the bullpen matchups.
Los Angeles' bullpen, despite the unavailability of Kenta Maeda and Yu Darvish's 1 2/3-inning start in Game 3, retired nine consecutive batters after Springer's home run, with Morrow (who has pitched in all four games) retiring all four batters he faced and Tony Watson getting his three men. Kenley Jansen, presented the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award before the game, allowed a two-out homer to Bregman in the bottom of the ninth.
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Logan's Run Batted In: He hit only .224 during the regular season, but Forsythe made his acquisition worthwhile by delivering a two-out RBI single to tie the score at 1 in the seventh inning, cashing in Bellinger's first double and answering the home run by Springer. Forsythe was playing against right-hander Morton in part because of Forsythe's defense at second base, and in greater part because left-handed-hitting platoon-mate Chase Utley is 0-for-14 in the postseason.
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Belly's back: The votes were long ago in for the NL Rookie of the Year Award, which Bellinger will probably win in a landslide, but nothing he did this season meant more than his go-ahead double in the ninth inning that chased Giles. Bellinger said an adjustment he made in batting practice paid off.
"I hit every ball in BP today to the left side of the infield," Bellinger said. "I've never done that before in my life. Usually I try to lift. I needed to make an adjustment and saw some results today. I'm pulling off everything. Usually in BP I just try to lift, have fun in BP. But today I tried to make an adjustment. I needed to make an adjustment, and so I decided I'm hitting every ball to left field today. I had two balls to left field today in the game and I saw some results, so let's see."
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"I just need one break and I feel it's going to come tomorrow. I'm going to get back on track." -- Giles
"It's a beautiful game: I can come out the next day and help the team to win after a bad day like that." -- Bellinger, who struck out four times in Game 3
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Game 4 was the first game in World Series history that both starting pitchers allowed four or fewer baserunners.
The combined 15 homers hit in this year's World Series, including eight in Game 2, breaks the previous record of 14 homers through four games (2002 Giants vs. Angels).
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Astros unsuccessfully challenged a call in the first inning, claiming a pitch thrown by Wood clipped Springer's shoe and should have resulted in a hit-by-pitch. The replay was inconclusive and the call would stand.
Dodgers: Kershaw, who starts Sunday's Game 5, dominated Houston in Los Angeles in winning Game 1, allowing only a solo home run to Bregman while striking out 11 without a walk in seven innings. He is 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA this postseason.
Astros: Keuchel, who gave up three runs (two homers) and six hits in 6 2/3 innings in a Game 1 loss to the Dodgers, gets the start in Game 5 in the final game of the year at Minute Maid Park. Keuchel is 2-2 with a 3.00 ERA in four postseason starts this year.