LOS ANGELES -- When asked about his faith in center fielder and leadoff man George Springer, Astros manager A.J. Hinch did not waver.
"You have to believe in what they can do, not what they're doing," Hinch said. "If you respond to every bad game or tough game, you'll bounce these guys around and ruin their confidence in a heartbeat. This is one of our best players. And there's no need to panic over a bad night against [Game 1 starter] Clayton Kershaw."
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Springer went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts Tuesday and carried a 3-for-30 slump into Wednesday. Hinch, who is closer to the All-Star than any of his other players, kept the faith, and the high-flying outfielder rewarded his manager by going 3-for-5 with a two-run, game-deciding homer in the 11th inning to send the Astros to a 7-6 win over the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium to even the World Series at one game apiece.
The Astros tied the game in the ninth on a Marwin Gonzalez homer off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, and took a 5-3 lead in the 10th on back-to-back homers by Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, but it was Springer's two-run, opposite-field shot to right off Brandon McCarthy that won the game.
"Obviously didn't have the best game [Tuesday] night," Springer said. "And as a player, you tend to know it. And you press. And you want to do things that you can't do. And for [Hinch] to have my back and to say that, 'Hey, you're still going to hit first, and you're still going to set the tone for us,' it slowed me down. I was doing things that I don't normally do. And for him to have my back, it means the world to me. And I'll always have his back. And that just shows who he is."
Springer led off the game with a walk, singled in the third, and doubled in the ninth, though he was left stranded. With the game tied in the 11th and Cameron Maybin on second, Springer crushed an 88-mph slider into the right-field seats. The emotion poured out of him as he rounded the bases following perhaps the biggest homer in Astros history.
"He's just an outstanding talent, man," Correa said. "At some point his bat was going to come back. He's too good of a hitter to be in a slump for that long. He's back, man. He gets really scary when he's back."
With Maybin on second, Springer was looking for a fastball he could hit the other way, but got a breaking ball he was subsequently able to square up and crush.
"It was an emotional roller coaster," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "There were some big plays defensively. Some big pitches made. Obviously, some big hits and big homers. And the focus was there. Guys were playing hard on both sides. And unfortunately we came up short."
Springer has been a streaky hitter, of sorts, throughout his career, but when he's making consistent contact, he's among one of the most dangerous hitters in the game.
"I just think when the lights turn on even brighter you tend to subconsciously press, and you want to succeed so bad that you start to do things that you wouldn't do, or you start to come out of an approach that has worked the whole year," Springer said. "And this is my first experience at playing this far, playing this long and in a game of this magnitude. So for me to kind of experience it and to kind of understand, 'Hey, slow yourself down,' I understand now why guys struggle in the postseason and some don't."