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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

World Series: Yu Darvish has game to forget as Houston Astros take 2-1 lead over LA Dodgers

Japanese pitcher lasted just 1 2/3 innings after giving up four runs on five hits.

Houston Astros players celebrate after winning Game 3 of the World Series to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt Slocum / AP Photo
Houston Astros players celebrate after winning Game 3 of the World Series to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Matt Slocum / AP Photo

Houston's Yuli Gurriel smashed a home run off Japan's Yu Darvish, who endured the shortest start of his career in the biggest game of his life, as the Astros downed the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Friday in the World Series.

Darvish lasted only 1 2/3 innings, the 31-year-old right-handed pitcher surrendering four runs on five hits in a nightmare second inning as the Astros seized a 2-1 edge in Major League Baseball's best-of-seven final.

The 113th World Series continues on Saturday in Houston with Dodgers left-handed pitcher Alex Wood (16-3) facing Astros right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7).

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The Astros, who unleashed a 12-hit barrage against Los Angeles, seek the first crown in their 55-year history while the Dodgers try for a seventh championship and their first since 1988.

With the victory, the Astros matched the best home play-off start in major league history, Philadelphia's 7-0 run from 2008.

Darvish, obtained in a July trade with Texas, became only the second Japanese starting pitcher in a World Series game after former Boston Red Sox star Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2007.

Darvish had been 2-0 in this month's playoffs with 14 strikeouts and two runs allowed until his Houston humbling.

Cuban Gurriel began the second-inning onslaught with a solo homer. Josh Reddick followed with a double off the left-field wall. Evan Gattis walked and Venezuela's Marwin Gonzalez singled to score Reddick.

Brian McCann, Houston's weakest batter, singled to right field to drive in Gattis. Alex Bregman's sacrifice fly scored Gonzalez from third base for a 4-0 lead. Jose Altuve followed with a double and Los Angeles ended Darvish's misery, replacing him with compatriot Kenta Maeda.

Darvish threw 31 strikes in his 49 pitches but only one was a batter's swinging miss, that a botched bunt attempt by Gonzalez.

The Dodgers scored a run in the fourth after Astros starter Lance McCullers Jnr walked three batters to load the bases with none out, but Corey Seager's run-scoring double play and a Justin Turner ground out ended the threat.

Another Los Angeles chance fizzled in the fifth as Joc Pederson doubled, took third base on a ground out but was stranded when Chris Taylor flew out to end the inning.

Houston stretched the lead to 5-1 in the fifth when Reddick singled and scored from first when Evan Gattis chopped an infield hit and Dodgers relief pitcher Tony Watson made an errant throw allowing the runners to advance.

The Dodgers answered in the sixth when Seager walked, took third on a Turner double and scored on Yasiel Puig's ground out to shortstop. Turner later scored on a wild pitch from Astros reliever Brad Peacock to pull Los Angeles within 5-3.

Houston, whose 12 stranded base runners included at least one in every inning, left the bases loaded in the seventh when George Springer's fly ball to centerfield was gloved by Taylor just shy of the wall for the last Astros out.

Peacock baffled Dodgers batters over the final 3 2/3 shutout innings, allowing no hits with four strikeouts.