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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

World Series: Houston Astros pay tribute to ice-cool Alex Bregman after Game 5 win

Batter scores game-winning run in 10th inning as Astros take 3-2 lead in MLB finals

Houston Astros' Alex Bregman is mobbed by teammates after hitting in the game-winning run in Game 5 of the World Series. Eric Gay / AP Photo
Houston Astros' Alex Bregman is mobbed by teammates after hitting in the game-winning run in Game 5 of the World Series. Eric Gay / AP Photo

Alex Bregman singled home Derek Fisher with the winning run in the 10th inning and the Houston Astros reached the brink of their first World Series title on Sunday, outlasting the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-12 in a tension-packed thriller.

The Astros seized a 3-2 lead in Major League Baseball's best-of-seven final and can claim the crown by winning Game 6 on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

"It was unbelievable, the best game ever for sure," said Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who blasted a three-run homer. "Emotions are running high right now. We have the lead in the series. We're going to go out there and take it in LA."

The Dodgers, seeking a seventh championship and their first since 1988, must win to force a winner-take-all seventh game on Wednesday.

"It's still a one-game season," Astros manager AJ Hinch said. "We're coming off a big win. It's a singular focus for us."

In an epic game that mirrored the momentum swings a drama-filled series has produced, the outcome was decided after five hours and 17 minutes on a single by a 23-year-old third baseman who made his major league debut just 15 months ago.

"He understands what we need. Being calm in the moment is innate," Hinch said of Bregman. "One of the many plot twists and turns is what to do and when."

Astros catcher Brian McCann started the decisive rally by taking first base when struck in the right arm by a pitch from Dodgers closing pitcher Kenley Jansen, who then walked George Springer to put the winning run on second base.

The Astros inserted pinch-runner Fisher and Bregman followed with a single to left field that sent Fisher racing across the plate ahead of a desperate throw that was too late to prevent the deciding run and an emotional celebration by the Astros and their fans.

"I was so happy just to help this team win," Bregman said. "I got [Jansen] on a slider last night so I knew he wouldn't throw that. I was looking for a cutter, tried to stay on top and we're up 3-2, baby!"

It was the second-highest score for a losing team in World Series history, the only similar slug-fest in the event's 113 editions being Toronto's 15-14 game-four win at Philadelphia in 1993.

The Astros led 12-9 in the ninth and were one strike from victory before the Dodgers equalised.

Yasiel Puig smashed a two-run homer into the left-field stands off Houston relief pitcher Chris Devenski with one out to pull the Dodgers within 12-11.

It was the 22nd homer of this World Series, breaking the total homers mark of 21 set in 2002, and the game's seventh combined homer for both teams, matching a Series record from 1989.

Austin Barnes followed with a double and took third on Joc Pederson's ground out to shortstop. Dodgers lead-off batter Chris Taylor was down to his last strike before ripping a single up the middle to score Barnes and level the game.

Houston's Yuli Gurriel smacked a two-out, two-run double in the Astros' half of the ninth to put a winning run in scoring position but Josh Reddick flew out to force extra innings.

Cody Bellinger tripled in Enrique Hernandez in the seventh after Astros centerfielder George Springer missed a diving catch attempt to give the Dodgers an 8-7 edge.

Springer made up for the mistake with a solo homer off Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow to equalise at 8-8 in the seventh.

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"I don't think I've ever seen someone remedy a mistake faster than what Springer did," Hinch said. "It feels like he made the mistake of a lifetime and one pitch later he put a lot of energy back in the building."

Bregman then singled and scored on Jose Altuve's double, and Correa followed with a two-run homer that gave the Astros an 11-8 lead.

In the eighth, Pederson blasted a double off the left-field wall and scored for the Dodgers on Corey Seager's double, but Brian McCann's solo homer put Houston ahead 12-9 entering the ninth.