By HAL McCOY
Strap yourself in because the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodges are going to strap it on for Game 7 of the 2017 World Series Wednesday night in raucous Dodger Stadium.
And that’s the only way this highly entertaining roller coaster World Series should end between two talent-stuffed teams that both won more than 100 games during the regular season.
It is a winner-take-all Game 7 after the Dodgers won a tense Game 6, 3-1, leveling the event at three wins apiece.
The Dodgers did it the hard way, facing Houston Houdini Justin Verlander, who began the game 4-and-0 in the post-season and 9-and-0 since exchanging a Detroit Tigers uniform for a Houston Astros uniform.
And once again, just as in Game 2, Verlander was on his game, forcing the Dodgers to scrape together runs.
Verlander went six innings in Game 2 and gave up two runs and three hits with two walks and five strikeouts. The two hits, though, were home runs.
Houston rescued that game, 7-6, in 11 innings.
This time Verlander was even better — six innings, two runs, three hits no walks and nine strikeouts. But he lost.
Houston leadoff hitter George Springer gave Verlander a 1-0 lead in the third inning with a two-out home run against LA starter Rich Hill, Springer’s fourth home run of the World Series.
Strangely, LA manager Dave Roberts did the same with Hill on this night as he did in Game 2. Hill held the Astros to one run and three hits with three walks and seven strikeouts through four innings. But Roberts removed him after four in a 1-1 game.
This time Hill pitched into the fifth. With Houston still on top, 1-0, Hill gave up a single to Brian McCann and a double to Marwin Gonzalez — third and second with no outs.
Hill struck out both Josh Reddick and Verlander and intentionally walked Springer to fill the bases. That’s when Roberts brought in Brandon Morrow. He retired Alex Bregman on a grounder to short to leave it a 1-0.
Verlander had given up one hit through five innings and three first-pitch strikes to the first 12 Dodgers batters.
But catcher Austin Barnes led the sixth with a single and Verlander hit Chase Utley on the foot with a pitch. Chris Taylor tied it with a single and Corey Seager’s sacrifice fly push the Dodgers in front, 2-1.
Joc Pederson suffered through a downer of a regular season that included a demotion to the minors. But it has clicked for him in the post-season. He homered to left field, the opposite field, in the seventh inning off relief pitcher Joe Musgrove, giving LA a 3-1 lead.
It was Pederson’s third World Series home run and his second off Musgrove, a three-run shot in Game 4.
After Hill left, the Dodgers’ bullpen fulfilled the faith their manager showed in it. Brandon Morrow pitched one scoreless inning, giving up one hit. Tony Watson pitched a scoreless third of an inning with a walk. Kenta Maeda pitched one scoreless inning, giving up one hit.
Roberts turned to his closer, Kenley Jansen, and asked him to get six outs, something he did only one time this season.
And he did it with poise and aplomb — six up and six down, striking out Josh Reddick and pinch-hitter Carlos Beltran to end it.
Besides the fifth, when the Astros loaded the bases and didn’t score, they had a chance in the seventh when they put two on one out. But Maeda came in to get Alex Bregman on a deep fly ball and Jose Altuve on a ground ball on which first baseman Cody Bellinger dug Justin Turner’s throw out of the dirt.
The Astros were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. The Astros out hit the Dodgers, 6-5, but on this night timeliness was