HOUSTON -- They were down but never out. They were bruised but not beaten. The never-say-die Astros -- facing a four-run deficit in a pivotal Game 5 of the World Series with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound -- pulled off the unthinkable in an epic game in an unforgettable Fall Classic.
Alex Bregman hit a walk-off single into left field off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen in the 10th inning to score pinch-runner Derek Fisher from second base and put an end to the second-longest World Series game in history, sending the Astros to a dramatic 13-12 victory on a Sunday night that drifted into Monday morning at Minute Maid Park.
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"It's an unbelievable moment," Bregman said. "You dream about it as a little kid. To be living a dream, one win away from the World Series, is really special."
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The five-hour, 17-minute contest trails only Game 3 of the Fall Classic in 2005, when the Astros fell to the White Sox, 7-5, in 14 innings in a five-hour, 41-minute game.
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The Astros lead the best-of-seven Series, 3-2, and will send Justin Verlander to the mound in Game 6 at Dodger Stadium against Rich Hill on Tuesday night with a chance to give Houston its first World Series championship. The team with a 3-2 lead in the World Series has won the Series 43 of 65 times.
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"Just when I thought I could describe Game 2 as my favorite game of all time, I think Game 5 exceeded that and more," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "It's hard to put into words all the twists and turns in that game, the emotion, doing it at home, in front of our home crowd. Just exactly what you expect to come to the park with [Dallas] Keuchel and Kershaw pitching."
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Neither Keuchel nor Kershaw, a pair of Cy Young Award winners, made it through the fifth inning. Kershaw allowed six runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, and Keuchel allowed four runs (three earned) and five hits in 3 2/3 frames. Both bullpens got battered -- Houston's gave up eight runs and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings, and Los Angeles' allowed seven runs and 10 hits in five innings.
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"You're emotionally exhausted because of the hype, I guess, and everything of the World Series," said Astros reliever Joe Musgrove, who worked a scoreless 10th for the win.
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Jansen, working his second inning, recorded two outs in the 10th before hitting Brian McCann with a pitch. When George Springer followed with a walk, Fisher replaced McCann at second as a pinch-runner and scored when Bregman hit a soft liner over shortstop to win the game.
"Tried to go up and in and missed my spot, and he did a great job," Jansen said of the Bregman at-bat. "Just missed my location. I was feeling great. McCann, tried to go in and yanked it. … It's over, man. Just got to worry about Tuesday."
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Fisher was appearing in just his fourth playoff game this year -- his first since Game 3 of the American League Championship Series -- and hasn't had an official at-bat in the postseason. Still, he was able to come off the bench and score the biggest run in Astros history.
"[Cameron] Maybin said today, 'I feel like one of us is going to score the winning run today,' and when he got on second base [in the ninth], I was like, 'This is going to be his time,'" Fisher said. "Unfortunately, it didn't happen at that point, and after it happened, he came up to me and said, 'Don't tell me I didn't tell you you were going to score the winning run today.'"
After the Astros wiped out deficits of 4-0, 7-4 and 8-7 with game-tying home runs, Los Angeles turned the tables on Houston by coming back from a 12-9 deficit in the ninth inning. Yasiel Puig hit a two-run homer off Astros reliever Chris Devenski, who was one strike away from ending the game when Chris Taylor shot an RBI single to center to tie it at 12.
"It was back and forth and you're trying to calm yourself down, calm your nerves," Devenski said. "All the excitement that was going on, all that stuff, just trying to go out there and slow the game down and do the best that you can."
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When McCann went deep in the eighth to put Houston ahead, 12-9, it was the Astros' fifth homer of the game. McCann became the 14th different player to homer in the World Series, setting a record. The 22 homers in the World Series and 101 in the postseason set Major League records.
The Dodgers took an 8-7 lead in the seventh when Springer dove in center for a sinking line drive off the bat of Cody Bellinger and allowed it to go under his glove and roll to the wall for a triple that scored Enrique Hernandez. But Springer atoned for the misplay when he crushed the first pitch thrown by reliever Brandon Morrow in the bottom of the inning and hit a homer to left to tie the game.
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"That's a very lonely feeling to know that I made a bad decision," Springer said. "I'll own up to it. I should have stopped. I got told by [bench coach] Alex Cora, by A.J. Hinch, [third-base coach] Gary Pettis, 'It's over. Just go have a good, quality at-bat and we'll see what happens.' To go from that low to that high is very, very emotional. I don't really know how to describe it."
Morrow has pitched in all five games of the Series and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game that he wanted to avoid using him in Game 5.
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"I saw where the game was at when I was getting loose," said Morrow, who called the dugout to say he could pitch. "I felt OK. It was probably selfish on my part to go down and push to let him know that I'm ready and want to get in. Obviously, we're very plan oriented and I should have stuck with that and not deviated from that."
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After Springer's homer, Bregman singled and scored from first on a double by Jose Altuve to give the Astros their first lead, 9-8. Carlos Correa then hit a towering fly ball to left field that sneaked into the first rows of the Crawford Boxes for a two-run homer to put Houston ahead, 11-8.
"This was crazier [than Game 2]," Correa said. "It was back and forth. Nonstop. It was unbelievable. The best game ever, for sure. Emotions are really high right now. We have the lead in the Series and we need to go take it in L.A."
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The Dodgers cut the lead to 11-9 in the eighth on an RBI double by Corey Seager, but reliever Will Harris got Justin Turner to line out and Devenski got Andre Ethier to ground out with runners on second and third to end the threat.
"I'm sure everybody's pretty exhausted, emotionally and physically," Kershaw said. "It was a tough one. But you know what? We've still got a chance at this thing. We're going to go home and get ready to go. ... I just lost my command a little bit there in the fourth inning and that's all it took."
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Yuli-ke that?Yuli Gurriel's second homer of the playoffs was a game-tying no-doubt blast to left field in the fourth that Statcast™ projected at 389 feet, getting the Astros back in it against Kershaw and setting the tone for the classic back-and-forth nature of the game. For Gurriel, it was a big moment that came one day after he was suspended for five games at the start of next season for an inappropriate gesture he made in Game 3. For Kershaw, it was his Major League-record eighth homer allowed in the postseason. More >
Bellinger blast: Bellinger, who had a go-ahead double in the ninth inning of Los Angeles' 6-2 win in Game 4, came through in the fifth, answering Gurriel's blast with a three-run homer of his own to put the Dodgers ahead, 7-4. Bellinger became the youngest player to homer in the World Series since Jose Cabrera in 2003.
"That was the craziest game I've ever been a part of, probably ever will be a part of," said Bellinger. "And got to tip your cap, they never gave up and we never gave up." More >
Altuve ties it again: Kershaw was pulled after walking Springer and Bregman with two outs in the fifth. With the crowd breaking into its "M-V-P" chant, Altuve worked the count full against reliever Kenta Maeda. After hitting a long foul ball to left field, Altuve turned on a fastball and deposited it onto the home run porch in left-center to tie the game again, 7-7, with a three-run homer -- Altuve's seventh homer of the postseason.
"The thing is we never gave up," Altuve said. "It doesn't matter if we start the game, 4-0, but we keep playing, we keep putting some really good at-bats together. We came back twice, they took the lead, they tied the game and we did it again. This is the team we are. This is the team we've been all season long, and I'm really proud of every single guy in that clubhouse because tonight we did something to help us win that game." More >
"Somehow the stars are aligning." -- Devenski
"It's the best lineup we've seen, one through nine, especially in this ballpark. When you've got McCann hitting [ninth], it's a very talented group, certainly." -- Roberts
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SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The six game-tying home runs in this World Series are the most for any Fall Classic on record, which for that stat is since 1974.
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UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Dodgers challenged a safe call at second base with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning when Correa was ruled to have beaten the tag of second baseman Charlie Culberson on his RBI double. The call was confirmed.
In the first, the Astros challenged a tag play at second base on a John Forsythe stolen base. Forsythe was called safe, and it was determined the call would stand after a replay review.
Dodgers: Hill, removed after allowing only one run in four innings of Game 2, starts Tuesday's Game 6 at Dodger Stadium at 5 p.m. PT. He struck out seven Astros and walked three, throwing 60 pitches. But Hill was removed before facing Houston's lineup for the third time, which seems to be a more predictive gauge on his departure than innings or pitch counts. Game 4 starter Alex Wood should be available for relief duty.
Astros: Verlander will get the start for the Astros in Game 6 at 7 p.m. CT. He is 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA in four playoff starts and one relief appearance this year. Verlander allowed two hits, both homers, and three runs in six innings in Houston's Game 2 win over Los Angeles. He is 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) since being traded to the Astros.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.