March 24, 2018
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Houston Astros centre fielder George Springer hits a double against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles November 1, 2017. — USA TODAY Sports/ReuterspicHouston Astros centre fielder George Springer hits a double against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game seven of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles November 1, 2017. — USA TODAY Sports/ReuterspicLOS ANGELES, Nov 2 — The Houston Astros, powered by a record-equalling home run by George Springer won the World Series for the first time yesterday with a 5-1 triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

George Springer belted his fifth home run of the Series as the Astros roughed up Dodgers starting pitcher Yu Darvish, who endured his second nightmare start of the Series.

He surrendered five runs in 1 2/3 innings as the Dodgers fell into a hole they wouldn’t climb out of.

A day after the Dodgers forced a decisive game seven, the Astros won their first Major League Baseball crown since their inception in 1962 — an especially emotional victory for Houston fans wearied by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.

“That (Houston Strong) patch on our chest truly does mean a lot to us,” Springer said. “I’m so happy for our fans who endured a lot.

Added Astros manager AJ Hinch: “Houston, we’re a championship city. This team loves playing in Houston and we’re going to love bringing this trophy back to Houston.

“We take great pride in being there for Houston,” Hinch said. “They responded by falling in love with this team.”

The Astros’ four-games-to-three triumph denied the Dodgers a seventh title and a first since their last appearance in the Fall Classic in 1988.

With everything on the line and Darvish once again ineffective, the Dodgers turned to left-handed pitching ace Clayton Kershaw in the third inning.

The three-time Cy Young award winner kept the Astros in check over four solid innings.

But the Dodgers, who led the major leagues with 104 regular-season wins, just couldn’t put runs on the board.

Springer stars

The Astros were already 3-0 up when Springer hit his fifth home run of the Series, a two-run blast to centre field that made it 5-0 and chased Japan’s Darvish with two outs in the second.

Springer’s five homers tied the record held by Reggie Jackson and Chase Utley and boosted him to World Series Most Valuable Player honours.

“This is for my teammates,” Springer said. “I wouldn’t be here without any of you guys.

“This is a dream come true,” he added. “It’s an honour. But it’s about the Houston Astros tonight and our fans. We’re coming home a champion, Houston.”

Springer’s homer pushed the Astros’ tally for the Series to 15, breaking the World Series record of 14 set by San Francisco Giants in 2002.

It was part of a three-run second that saw Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers drive in Houston’s third run with a groundout that plated Brian McCann, who was walked by Darvish to open in the frame.

Marwin Gonzalez followed McCann with a double and scored on Springer’s homer.

It was the end of another dismal World Series start for Darvish, who had lasted just 1 2/3 innings in a game three won by Houston.

McCullers lasted a bit longer — 2 1/3 innings — giving up three hits but no runs.

McCullers, at 24 the youngest pitcher to start a World Series game seven since 24-year-old John Lackey for the Angels in 2002, also hit four batters — the most ever in a World Series game.

Springer had led off the first inning with a double off Darvish.

Alex Bregman came up next and reached second on a throwing error by Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger that allowed Springer to score. Bregman scored on Jose Altuve’s ground out.

Darvish induced a ground out from Carlos Correa before a dramatic at-bat by Yuli Gurriel, who was again greeted by a rain of boos after his racially charged gesture directed at Japan’s Darvish in game three.

As the jeers echoed around the stadium, Gurriel tipped his helmet to Darvish, who needed 13 pitches to retire the Cuban.

Chris Taylor matched Springer’s lead-off double in the bottom of the first. But after Lance McCullers Jr loaded the bases by hitting Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig he escaped by inducing an inning-ending groundout from Joc Pederson.

The Dodgers also left runners on base in the second, third and fifth before Andre Ethier’s single off Astros reliever Charlie Morton scored Pederson, who had singled to lead off the sixth.

The Astros claimed the title 12 years after being swept by the Chicago White Sox in their only prior World Series appearance.

“We were able to accomplish the dream,” said Houston shortstop Carlos Correa, adding his thoughts were with fans in Houston and his own storm ravaged native Puerto Rico.

“To be able to bring joy and happiness to their lives is special in this moment.” — AFP

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