“Boy, he’s really carried us for awhile here through this postseason, and that’s especially tough for a young player, a young shortstop,” Baker said. “And I’m just glad we have him.”
With a 2-1 lead, Verlander allowed Harper to reach base for a third time in the fifth inning. Baker stuck with Verlander, who escaped unscathed and the Phillies again failed to convert a scoring opportunity.
So with Verlander at 94 pitches, Baker turned the game over to the Astros’ stout bullpen. Abreu delivered one and one-thirds powerhouse innings, carving through the heart of the Phillies’ order with 98-mile-per-hour fastballs and wicked sliders.
“It’s so symbolic that so many people were a part of this win, and they rallied around me and they were almost just as happy that I got the win as I was,” Verlander said afterward, pointing to the bullpen’s work. “Just an incredible feeling.”
The Phillies injected life into Citizens Bank Park and drama into the game when Astros reliever Rafael Montero walked two batters in the eighth inning and coughed up a run-scoring single to Segura. It was the Phillies’ first hit with a runner in scoring position since Game 1, snapping an 0-for-20 skid in those situations.
Baker called on Pressly, the Astros closer, to clean up the mess and secure a five-out save. He struck out Marsh and then got Schwarber to slap a ball down the first base line. That is when Mancini — usually known more for his hitting, which has been a struggle this postseason — made a lunging stab on the ball and reached back for the bag with his feet.
And after Pressley fired a scoreless ninth inning, with help from McCormick, the Astros celebrated and packed up. On Friday, they planned to fly home, where a title that could redefine this era was within reach.
Scott Miller contributed reporting.