By RONALD BLUM
HOUSTON (AP) — Even with a five-run lead, Justin Verlander couldn’t get his first World Series win.
Perfect through three innings, he was utterly fallable in the fourth and fifth. Nick Castellanos started Verlander’s downfall with a run-scoring single, and Alec Bohm and J.T. Realmuto each hit a two-run double as the Phillies rallied for a 6-5, 10-inning win over the Houston Astros in Friday night’s opener.
Verlander was pulled after five innings. The 39-year-old right-hander allowed six hits and two walks in a no-decision that left him 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts.
He became the fourth-oldest pitcher to start a Series game after 43-year-old Roger Clemens, 40-year-old David Wells and Early Wynn, a slightly more aged 39. He said he was ready and looked the part, his face filled with the stubble from his habit of shaving only right after a start.
Likely headed to his third Cy Young Award after going 18-4 with a big league-best 1.75 ERA in his return from Tommy John surgery, Verlander has said he hopes to pitch until age 45.
His first three innings could not have been smoother. A sharp fastball averaging 95 mph, a curve and a slider kept the Phillies off balance the first time through the batting order. Verlander needed 36 pitches to get nine outs, 27 of them strikes.
But Rhys Hoskins singled to center on a fastball with one out in the fourth, Bryce Harper singled on a slider with two outs and Castellanos singled on a slider to drive in the Phillies’ first run.
Bohm hooked a hanging curveball into the left-field corner to cut the gap to 5-3. Only after Bryson Stott worked out a 10-pitch walk did Verlander retire Jean Segura on an inning-ending popup.
Then in the fifth, No. 9 hitter Brandon Marsh doubled leading off, Kyle Schwarber singled and one out later, Realmuto drove another hanging curve off the chain-link fence in left-center to tie the score.
Teams had been 220-5 in Series games when leading by five or more runs — the previous loss had been by the 2002 San Francisco Giants, who wasted a five-run lead in an 11-10 loss to the Angels. That Giants team, like this year’s Astros, was managed by Dusty Baker.
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