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World Series Game 5: Washington Nationals drop third straight, down 3-2 after 7-1 loss to Houston Astros

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One more loss and it’s over ... or just two more wins and they’re World Series champs, however, you want to look at things. The Nationals lost their third straight to the Astros.

World Series - Houston Astros v Washington Nationals - Game Five Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Joe Ross, a late choice to start tonight’s game when Max Scherzer was scratched with what Davey Martinez said were spasms in his right trap and neck, gave the Washington Nationals five innings of work in which he gave up four runs on two, two-run home runs, and Houston Astros’ starter Gerrit Cole bounced back from a less-than-stellar start in Game 1 of the 2019 World Series (7.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER) with seven strong innings in a 7-1 win which gave the ‘Stros a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6 on Tuesday night in Minute Maid Park.

Scherzer Ross vs the Astros: Hours before the start of tonight’s game, Max Scherzer was scratched with what Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said were, “spasms in his right trap and neck,” so the Nationals turned to Joe Ross, who started Game 4 of the NLDS before coming out of the bullpen in Game 3 of the World Series, but had thrown just 4 23 innings between those two appearances.

Asked what sort of expectations he had for Ross in the outing, Martinez said, “He’s starting the game. We’re going to let him go as much as he can go.”

But realistically?

“We’re going to let him go as much as he can,” the manager reiterated. “I’m assuming he can get up to that 75, 80-pitch mark.”

Ross worked around a leadoff walk in a relatively quick, 14-pitch top of the first inning, but a one-out single by Yuli Gurriel and a two-run home run to left-center field by Yordan Alvarez in back-to-back at bats in the second gave the Astros a 2-0 lead early in Game 5.

Ross held the Astros there through 3 23 innings, but a two-out hit by Alvarez kept the top of the fourth inning alive, and Carlos Correa followed with a two-run home run to left on a 2-2 slider from the Nationals’ starter that ended up in the left field seats, 4-0.

Ross walked George Springer with one out in the fifth, but got an inning-ending 4-6-3 DP in the next at bat, to end a 12-pitch fifth in what was his final inning of work.

Joe Ross’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 HRs, 78 P, 48 S, 9/1 GO/FO.

Cole vs the Nationals: Gerrit Cole gave up one run on 10 hits in 22 23 IP in his first three postseason starts this month, going (3-0) in those outings to extend an unbeaten streak which stretched back into the regular season, all the way to the third week of May.

But Game 1 of the World Series didn’t go the 29-year-old right-hander’s way.

Cole gave up five runs on eight hits in the 5-4 loss in that outing, and as his manager said after that game, they knew what they were getting into going against the Nationals and it ended up they were right.

“We knew it was going to be tough,” A.J. Hinch told reporters. “These guys are really tough to put away. They don’t strike out a lot. And they proved tonight they’re putting the ball in play and a couple of two-strike at-bats, finding some holes, hitting a few balls hard, couple of balls out of the ballpark. That’s how they beat him.”

The last time Cole lost consecutive starts though? You have to go all the way back to April.

How would he bounce back?

Cole started the night with three scoreless on 42 pitches as the Astros jumped out to a 2-0 lead, and he came back out for the fourth with a 4-0 advantage and worked around a one-out walk to Anthony Rendon in a 21-pitch frame that left him at 63 overall after four innings.

A six-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth pushed the Astros’ starter up to 69 pitches, and a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth left him at 84 pitches with eight-straight retired and 14 of the previous 15 set down.

Juan Soto finally got Cole in the bottom of the seventh, hitting a 99 MPH 2-2 fastball out to left-center for a solo shot that made it a 4-1 game in the Astros’ favor...

... but after a the ‘Stros’ starter issued a two-tout walk to Ryan Zimmerman, Victor Robles K’d looking at ball four to end a 26-pitch frame. 110P total for Cole.

Gerrit Cole’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 1 HR, 110 P, 71 S, 3/3 GO/FO.

Rendon Rolling: Anthony Rendon had hits in 11 of 12 games heading into Game 5 of the World Series, dating to Game 2 of the NLDS, going 16 for 43 (.372/.434/.581) six doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, seven walks, six Ks, and eight runs scored over that stretch.

He also had a good suggestion last night when he was asked how the Nationals could try to slow the Astros’ momentum after they’d evened things up with back-to-back wins in D.C.

“Score more runs than them,” Rendon said. That’s good advice. It didn’t happen.

BULLPEN ACTION: Tanner Rainey took over for the Nationals in the top of the sixth inning and retired the Astros in order in a nine-pitch frame.

Sean Dolittle got the top of the seventh for the Nats, and worked around a single and a walk in a scoreless, 14-pitch frame.

Daniel Hudson came on in the eighth with the Nationals trailing 4-1, and gave up a leadoff double by George Springer, who scored on a two-out RBI single by Yuli Gurriel, 5-1 Astros.

Joe Smith got the bottom of the eighth for the Astros, and worked around a leadoff single by Yan Gomes for a scoreless frame.

Hudson came back out for the top of the ninth and gave up a one-out single and the third two-run home run of the game for the Astros, with George Springer taking him deep with two out to make it a 7-1 game. Wander Suero finished off the top of the ninth.

Ryan Pressly came on with a six-run lead and retired the Nationals in order to end Game 5.

Final Score: 7-1 Astros

Nationals trail 3-2