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Roberts opts to not challenge two close plays

DP snuffs out potential big inning; Puig gambles on hit, out at 2B
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

HOUSTON -- In a game dotted with defensive gems from one team and squandered offensive chances by the other, a pair of bang-bang plays -- both of which went Houston's way -- helped send the Dodgers to a 5-3 loss in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

And neither, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts determined in the moment, was worth a second look.

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HOUSTON -- In a game dotted with defensive gems from one team and squandered offensive chances by the other, a pair of bang-bang plays -- both of which went Houston's way -- helped send the Dodgers to a 5-3 loss in Game 3 of the World Series on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

And neither, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts determined in the moment, was worth a second look.

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In falling behind, 2-1, in the best-of-seven Series, the Dodgers were left understanding the agony of inches. A masterful third-inning double-play turn that snuffed out the Dodgers' most promising rally featured some initial uncertainty as to whether Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. had his foot on the first-base bag. An inning later, the Astros got another favorable call when Yasiel Puig was called out after being tagged by a diving second baseman Jose Altuve.

Both plays were close. Neither seemed especially definitive in real time. Though armed with the extra challenge managers are afforded in the postseason, Roberts chose not to initiate a replay review either time. The message sent to him from the clubhouse was that both plays were "clear cut." Thus, he didn't want to burn a challenge he expected to lose.

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During the regular season, Roberts challenged 36 calls, 22 of which were overturned. That success rate of 61.1 percent ranked No. 7 in the Majors.

Given the circumstances, the first call was most crucial. The Astros had jumped out to a 4-0 lead while chasing starter Yu Darvish in the bottom of the second. However, with three consecutive walks to open the following inning, the Dodgers sat poised to carve into that deficit.

Corey Seager, who had homered off Justin Verlander in Game 2, stepped in as the Astros' bullpen scurried to get someone loose. Seager made weak contact (75.5 mph exit velocity) on a grounder to first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who, benefiting from the direction of his momentum, slung the ball to second for one out and then watched as shortstop Carlos Correa completed the double play with a throw to McCullers, who had hustled to cover first.

"You try and elevate a ball, try and scratch a run," Seager said. "Obviously it didn't happen. Obviously, I would have liked to have done something a little better than that."

The Dodgers scored a run on the play but had also hit themselves out of a more fruitful inning. Seager lingered near first base for a while, anticipating a possible challenge. Instead, his manager summoned him back.

"We took as much time as we could," Roberts said. "But they were pretty certain that we would have lost the challenge."

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Justin Turner followed by grounding out to third to end the threat. The Dodgers, after loading the bases with no outs, had scored just one run, leaving the score 4-1.

A chance to keep the pressure on McCullers in the fourth then evaporated when Puig couldn't turn a ball down the left-field line into an extra-base hit. Correa tracked down the ball as it caromed off the wall and fired it to Altuve, who lunged at Puig to tag him for the inning's second out.

Puig didn't dispute the call in the moment, nor did he do so afterward, answering "not really" when asked if there was a chance he had gotten his hand into the base ahead of the tag.

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Roberts said his video coordinator believed that Altuve held his glove on Puig as the Dodgers' outfielder momentarily slid off the bag. Regardless, Los Angeles saw no reason to protest.

Had Puig tracked the ball down the line, he likely would have reached second with ease. But after racing down the line in 4.09 seconds -- his fourth-fastest home-to-first time this year -- Puig ran through the base instead of cutting toward second. The stop-and-restart cost him, as Puig's time from first to second clocked in at 5.25.

"[I expected him] to catch the ball, throw to first base and make a play," Puig said of Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, who had deflected the ball with his glove. "I'm running, and later I see that the ball isn't coming to first base. When I looked over there, the ball is in the middle of everybody, and I made up my mind to try for second base."

McCullers then retired Logan Forsythe to end the frame.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Yasiel Puig