Updated Wednesday at 2:05 a.m. ET
The Washington Nationals avoided elimination by beating the Houston Astros 7-2 in Game 6 of the 2019 World Series, forcing a Game 7 in Houston on Wednesday.
But even a Series-defining Game 7 could have a tough time matching the tension and drama of Game 6 which featured a controversial call that appeared to kill — at least temporarily — a Washington rally.
Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg was the winning pitcher, lasting eight and a third innings, striking out seven while allowing only two runs on five hits.
Astros ace starter Justin Verlander was the losing pitcher. He pitched five innings, surrendering three runs on five hits and three walks, with three strikeouts. It was Verlander’s second loss of this series and he is 0-6 as a starting pitcher in seven career World Series games.
The Nationals drew first blood to open the game on a run-scoring single by third baseman Anthony Rendon — who delivered five RBIs before the night was out — after lead-off batter Trea Turner hit an infield single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by right-fielder Adam Eaton.
But Houston struck back immediately in their half of the first inning with a sacrifice fly by second baseman José Altuve after a first-pitch double by center-fielder George Springer, who took third base on a wild pitch by the Nats’ Strasburg. One out later, third baseman Alex Bregman hit a solo homer that gave Houston a 2-1 lead.
But those would prove to be all the runs the Astros would score.
After cruising through the second inning, the Astros’ Verlander had to pitch out of jams in the third and fourth innings, stranding two Nationals runners in both frames.
Washington, which had scored only three runs in the previous three games they had lost at home, finally capitalized in the fifth inning. Eaton and left fielder Juan Soto each hit solo homers to take the lead 3-2.
Houston threatened in the bottom of the fifth inning after right-fielder Josh Reddick singled and Springer followed with his second double of the night. But that was all the Astros got off Strasburg, who retired the next two batters.
Astros reliever Brad Peacock opened the sixth inning in place of Verlander, who had thrown 93 pitches.
The seventh inning opened with a sequence of plays that will likely be talked about for a long time.
After a single by Nationals catcher Yan Gomes, the next batter, Turner, appeared to have beaten out a dribbler to the reliever Peacock who threw late to first base. The throw got past first baseman Yuli Gurriel as the runners advanced.
But Turner was called out for running inside the base path and interfering with Peacock’s throw. After a lengthy delay in which the umpires consulted league officials in New York, the call on the field was confirmed.
So instead of having runners at second and third with no outs, the Nationals had a runner at first with one out. But a batter later, the Nationals’ Rendon launched a two-run home run that extended their lead to 5-2.
Strasburg retired the Astros without incident in the seventh and eighth innings. He was pulled for reliever Sean Doolittle after retiring the first batter he faced in the ninth.
The 2019 World Series is the first postseason series across professional baseball, hockey and basketball in which the road team won the first six games.