LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers right-hander Brandon McCarthy had made only three appearances because of injuries since July 20 and none in the postseason until Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. And his performance in the 11th inning of a 7-6 loss to the Astros in Game 2 of the Fall Classic is one he'd rather forget.
George Springer hit a two-run homer off McCarthy after Cameron Maybin singled and stole second, snapping a 5-5 tie that allowed the Astros to knot the best-of-seven World Series presented by YouTubeTV at a game apiece. The next three games are on the Astros' home turf at Minute Maid Park beginning Friday night.
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"This is not about anger and frustration," McCarthy said. "The pitch I made to Springer had to be much better. It just took me a little while to settle in."
The pitch in question was a hanging 87-mph slider that Springer smacked into the right center-field pavilion. The Astros relied on the long ball to come from behind in the ninth to tie the score at 3, when Marwin Gonzalez led off with an opposite-field homer off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen.
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Houston hit four homers in all, including back-to-back blasts to open the 10th off the bats of Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.
But after the Astros took a 5-3 lead in the 10th, the Dodgers returned the favor when Yasiel Puig homered and Enrique Hernandez tied it on an RBI single in the bottom of the inning.
In came McCarthy for the first time since a relief appearance at Colorado on Oct. 1. Then came the Maybin single and Springer homer.
"I just didn't think off the bat it was going to be a home run," McCarthy said. "The way the ball was flying in this place tonight, I should have expected it."
McCarthy is a starter by trade, but he's had a long litany of injuries, including Tommy John surgery in 2015 and right shoulder problems. This season, he spent stints on the disabled list after injuring his left shoulder in the weight room and nursing finger blisters on his right hand.
He wasn't on the active roster when the Dodgers swept the D-backs in their National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile and handled the Cubs easily in a five-game NL Championship Series presented by Camping World. His inclusion on the 25-man World Series roster came as a surprise to many.
"He really has been sharp. I think to his credit he has done what he can do to keep fresh and sharp," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said about the club's decision to activate McCarthy. "And with what we'd seen of his sinker, the cutter, the curveball, it just made sense."
McCarthy, 34, had a 6-4 record with a 3.98 ERA during the regular season. He began 2017 in the Dodgers' rotation and posted a 3.84 ERA in 16 starts, but his last three appearances in late September and October were all in relief.
In his 12-year career for six teams, McCarthy has made 182 starts in his 240 regular-season appearances.
But coming in Wednesday for a rare relief appearance is not a valid excuse, McCarthy said.
"It's a different animal," he said. "But it's the World Series and you better be ready to go when they tell you to go. No matter what job they give me, I have to do a better job there when I come in."