Astros top Nationals in Game 3, cut World Series deficit to 2-1

Planning to use their bullpen to cover Saturday’s World Series Game 4, the Houston Astros hope that Friday’s game was a glimpse of what is to come.

Robinson Chirinos hit a home run, Michael Brantley drove in a pair of runs, and five relievers made their presence known in Game 3, as the visiting Astros earned a 4-1 victory over the Washington Nationals.

The Astros’ first victory in the matchup, and first victory in the World Series since winning the deciding Game 7 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2017, came after the Nationals won the first two games at Houston. Game 4 is Saturday night in Washington.

While Houston got just enough offense, the bullpen was an equally big factor, delivering 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Starter Zack Greinke departed in the fifth inning having given up seven hits and three walks, but the right-hander allowed just one run, on an RBI triple from Victor Robles.

“Everybody knows if you lose two games at home, that third game is about as must-win as it can possibly get,” Astros right-hander Will Harris said on MLB Network after he delivered 1 2/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts. “We knew coming in we liked our chances. It was just a matter of time we would get the hits with runners in scoring position.”

Astros right-hander Josh James (2-0) earned the victory by getting a strikeout with two aboard in the fifth inning, while Roberto Osuna pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his second save of the postseason.

Nationals starter Anibal Sanchez (1-1) — making his first appearance since coming four outs from a no-hitter in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals — gave up four runs on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings, with one walk and four strikeouts.

The Nationals saw their eight-game postseason winning streak come to an end. Just three of those eight wins were played in the nation’s capital.

Aside from losing the game, the Nationals also lost catcher Kurt Suzuki with a hip flexor strain, as he left in the sixth inning. He is scheduled for an MRI on Saturday, and his status moving forward is unknown.

The Astros can even the series Saturday night, although they have not named a starter and are expected to extend their bullpen over nine innings. The Nationals will send left-hander Patrick Corbin (1-2, 6.91 ERA) to the mound in Game 4.

Houston took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a bloop RBI single to left field from Josh Reddick, scoring Carlos Correa, who had doubled. One inning later, Brantley added an infield RBI single on a comebacker that deflected off Sanchez.

The Nationals cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fourth inning on Robles’ triple to left field. Nationals manager Dave Martinez then let his pitcher hit for himself, but Sanchez struck out, followed by a groundout from Trea Turner to leave Robles stranded.

Brantley came back in the fifth with a ground-ball single to right field to score Jose Altuve, who had doubled. In one game, Brantley matched his RBI total from the previous 13 games of the postseason.

“The games at home didn’t go our way, but it doesn’t matter, we trust in the talent we have,” Altuve, who also doubled and scored on Brantley’s first RBI, said on MLB Network. “We have a lot of good players, and we proved that tonight.”

Chirinos’ home run off the netting of the left-field foul pole came in the sixth inning and was his second of the playoffs.

Game 3 was the first World Series game contested in Washington D.C. since the Washington Senators played host to the New York Giants in 1933.

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)