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Astros use 1-2 punch to take 2-1 WS lead

MLB.com

HOUSTON -- Another dynamic pitching performance was the story for the Astros on Friday night, with starter Lance McCullers Jr. and reliever Brad Peacock combining to slam the door on the Dodgers while keeping their team unbeaten at home in the postseason.

The Astros, buoyed by a loud orange-clad crowd at enclosed Minute Maid Park, made an early outburst against Dodgers starter Yu Darvish stand up while McCullers and Peacock combined to throw a four-hitter in Houston's 5-3 win in Game 3 of the World Series.

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HOUSTON -- Another dynamic pitching performance was the story for the Astros on Friday night, with starter Lance McCullers Jr. and reliever Brad Peacock combining to slam the door on the Dodgers while keeping their team unbeaten at home in the postseason.

The Astros, buoyed by a loud orange-clad crowd at enclosed Minute Maid Park, made an early outburst against Dodgers starter Yu Darvish stand up while McCullers and Peacock combined to throw a four-hitter in Houston's 5-3 win in Game 3 of the World Series.

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"All the fans have been outstanding during the postseason," Peacock said. "And to tell you the truth, when I was out there a couple of times, I got the chills from them screaming so loud. That was an unbelievable feeling. They got me going, and I'm just glad I was able to get it done, for sure."

Gear up for the World Series: Astros | Dodgers

The Astros took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Fall Classic by becoming the eighth team in history to win at least seven home games in a postseason (7-0). The previous seven clubs won the World Series, and the Astros can become No. 8 if they win Games 4 and 5 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday and Sunday.

Since the World Series moved permanently to the current 2-3-2 format in 1946, teams taking Game 3 at home for a 2-1 lead have won 11 of 16 times, and eight of the past nine.

"You saw the Indians last year get a 3-1 lead and then it didn't happen for them. We don't want to get carried away," Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. "We want to stay confident and focused at the same time and try to go out there and win these last two games [in Houston]."

Darvish, who had allowed just two runs in 11 1/3 innings in two previous postseason starts, and had been 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in six career starts at Minute Maid Park, gave up four runs and six hits while inducing just one swing and miss in the 49 pitches he threw.

Video: Must C Crucial: Gurriel leads four-run 2nd with homer

"The fastball command wasn't there, and the slider was backing up," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Darvish, who was 4-0 with a 0.88 ERA in his five previous starts. "So he just really didn't have the feel and couldn't get any type of rhythm going."

McCullers, who threw four scoreless innings in relief of Charlie Morton in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series a week ago, allowed three runs, four walks and four hits in 5 1/3 innings before turning the ball over to Peacock, who slammed the door on Los Angeles by throwing 3 2/3 hitless innings for the first save of his career.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Peacock allows no hits in 3 2/3 of relief

"I think it's just guys going out of the strike zone," Roberts said of his offense, which was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. "You look at the opportunities that we did have, and pitchers seemed to go to their secondaries. When we are at our best, or any offense is at their best, they stay disciplined in the strike zone, and right now we're chasing a little bit more than we usually do."

The Dodgers conceded they played a sloppy game, committing two errors and having Yasiel Puig thrown out at second when he decided late to try for the extra base after running through first on a grounder down the third-base line.

Video: Must C Combo: Correa fires, Altuve makes a diving tag

"We didn't play a very good game at all," said shortstop Corey Seager. "We threw some balls away, kicked some balls around to let them advance. They scored on some. We can't let that happen. We'll figure it out. We'll get ready. And we'll get back to playing good ball."

• Roberts opts to not challenge two close plays

Peacock delivered the longest relief outing in a World Series game since San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner threw five innings in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series. The 3 2/3 innings tied for the second-longest relief outing without allowing a hit to finish a Fall Classic game since Ted Wilks of the Cardinals in 1964.

• Justice: Peacock's save a Series classic

"This postseason, I've really enjoyed bringing back the three-inning save," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "That's cool."

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Hinch discusses Peacock's gutsy outing

Houston chased Darvish after 1 2/3 innings -- the shortest start of his career. Yuli Gurriel got the scoring started with a line-drive homer into the Crawford Boxes in the second, an inning in which the Astros batted around. Josh Reddick doubled and scored on a Marwin Gonzalez single, Evan Gattis walked and scored on a Brian McCann single, and Gonzalez scored on an Alex Bregman sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: McCann notches three hits, RBI in win

Leading 4-1 in the sixth, McCullers issued a leadoff walk to Seager and a double by Justin Turner, and the right-hander was pulled after striking out Cody Bellinger. Both runners ended up scoring -- on an RBI groundout by Puig and a wild pitch -- to cut Houston's lead to 5-3, but Peacock took it from there.

• Posnanski: Bellinger not worried about 4 K's

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Puig plates Seager with a groundout

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pumped up: McCullers delivered an emphatic fist pump after escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the third by allowing one run. The righty's control briefly betrayed him as he walked three, but he got Seager to hit into a 3-6-1 double play -- scoring Joc Pederson -- before getting the dangerous Turner to ground out to end the inning.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: McCullers induces inning-ending groundout

"I didn't have much tonight from the get-go," McCullers said. "I was not really able to locate pretty much anything. So in the third inning, just wasn't making my pitches. After a big four-run inning from the guys, you don't want to change your approach for the team, because that's the easiest way to get in trouble." More >

Yuli gets it going: Darvish pitched around a leadoff double by George Springer in the first inning, but Gurriel crushed the fourth pitch of the second and roped it into the Crawford Boxes for a homer. That began a string of five Astros in a row to reach base.

Video: WS2017 Gm3: Gurriel hits a solo homer to left

"Four runs in any game is big," Hinch said. "Four runs in the World Series is huge. To get that kind of momentum started, get the crowd into it, have a lead, puts a ton of pressure on the other dugout. Obviously, the quality of our at-bats tonight were incredible. That's more of our identity. That's what we're about. And to see it carry over from the last game to this game was welcome."

Gurriel added a double in the seventh inning -- his eighth extra-base hit of the postseason -- but his night was tarnished when he was seen making an inappropriate gesture in reference to Darvish.

QUOTABLE
"He was absolutely lights-out today. It was really special to watch, playing behind him. He was throwing straight fastballs over there, and he was blowing guys away with just one pitch. It was very impressive to watch." -- Correa, on Peacock

"They've got some confidence over there, that team." -- Roberts, on the Astros

• Dodgers confident they will even Series

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Dodgers trailed in the World Series, 2-1, in 1955, '65 and '81 and rallied to win. The other seven times they trailed, 2-1, they lost the Series.

DYK: Save puts Peacock in elite company

WHAT'S NEXT
Dodgers: Alex Wood starts Saturday's Game 4 at Minute Maid Park. Wood started Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in Chicago on Oct. 18, so he'll be working on nine days' rest. Wood allowed the Cubs three solo home runs, and keeping Houston's right-handed power hitters in the park will be job No. 1. Wood allowed two home runs in the first half of the regular season, 16 since, with an accompanying loss in fastball velocity.

Astros: Morton, who threw five scoreless innings to get the win in the Game 7 ALCS clincher a week ago, gets the ball when Houston faces Los Angeles on Saturday in Game 4 of the World Series. Morton is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA in three postseason starts.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.