By HAL McCOY
When it comes to postseason play, what wins most often is pitching, pitching, pitching, pitching and more pitching.
There was no better exhibit of it than Saturday night in Game Four of the World Series as the pitchers on both sides laid waste to the two best offenses in the baseball world, especially the starting pitchers.
It wasn’t until the ninth inning, when the Los Angeles Dodgers exploded for five runs against the Houston Astros bullpen, was this pitching clinic decided, a 6-2 victory for LA.
That evened the 2017 World Series at two wins apiece and it was Houston’s first postseason loss in Minute Maid Park after seven straight wins.
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Alex Wood pitched 5 2/3 hitless innings, but when George Springer hit a two-out home run in the sixth inning Wood was lifted — one run, one hit in 5 2/3 innings.
And as it turned out that would be the only hit of the night for the Astros until two outs in the ninth. Alex Bergman hit a two-out home run off LA closer Kenley Jansen. After Wood, Brandon Morrow pitched 1 1/3 perfect innings, Tony Watson pitched a perfect inning and Jansen retired the first two before the home run.
Houston starter Charlie Morton gave up a hit to Chris Taylor to open the game, then retired 14 in a row, including seven via strikeouts.
Cody Bellinger, 0 for 13 in the World Series, broke through with a one-out double in the seventh and Morton was replaced by Will Harris. With two outs, Logan Forsythe banged a run-scoring single to tie it, 1-1.
And that’s the way it stood until Houston manager A.J. Hinch brought in his closer, Ken Giles, to pitch the ninth, knowing Giles had given up runs in five of his six playoff outings.
Make it six of seven.
Corey Seager led with a single and Giles walked Justin Turner on four pitches. Bellinger, after his 0 for 13, hit his second straight double to break the tie and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
It was the first time in eight playoff home games that the Astros were behind in a game in Minute Maid Park.
Giles was removed — three hitters, three base runners. Joe Musgrave came in and the Dodgers scored a third run on an Austin Barnes sacrifice fly.
Then Joc Pederson brushed the sealant on this one with a three-run home run to right field, completing the five-run inning, making it easy for LA closer Kenley Jansen to finish it.
The Astros bullpen is the team’s one Achilles heel. The earned run average for Houston’s relief pitchers is 5.26 for the postseason.
Game Five figures to be another pitching exhibition, LA’s Clayton Kershaw against Houston’s Dallas Keuchel.