Phillies in a world of trouble after second straight World Series loss


The Phillies have reached a place previously unfamiliar to them in this postseason.

They trail for the first time in a series.

On the final night of baseball at Citizens Bank Park for 2022, the Phils suffered a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros in Game 5 of the World Series on Thursday.

The Phils have lost two games in a row for the first time in their captivating postseason run. They also face a series deficit for the first time, trailing the Astros three games to two as the series moves back to Houston for Game 6 on Saturday night. The Astros, 5-1 at home this postseason, are one victory away from winning their second World Series in six years.

Zack Wheeler, battling fatigue in his right arm, will try to save the Phillies' season when he gets the start in Game 6. A Phillies win would force a decisive Game 7 Sunday night. Wheeler will face lefty Framber Valdez in a rematch of the Game 2 matchup. Valdez struck out nine in leading the Astros to a 5-2 win in that one.

One night after being no-hit by four Astros pitchers in Game 4, the Phillies were held to just two runs by five Houston pitchers in Game 5.

Justin Verlander, who led the majors with a 1.75 ERA in 2022 and will likely win his third American League Cy Young Award, notched his elusive first World Series win with five innings of one-run ball. He had previously been 0-6 with a 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts.

The Phillies had opportunities to get to the 39-year-old right-hander, who allowed four hits and walked four. He pitched with runners on base in all but one of his five innings. The Phils left six men on base against him in the first three innings, including the bases full in the second inning. Verlander allowed a single to Jean Segura with two outs in that inning then issued consecutive walks to Brandon Marsh and Kyle Schwarber before striking out Rhys Hoskins on a 2-2 slider.

The Phils left two more baserunners in the third and could not take advantage of a two-out double by Bryce Harper in the fifth. Nick Castellanos worked the count full against Verlander before popping out to left field to conclude a 10-pitch at-bat.

For the game, the Phillies were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Through the seventh inning, they were 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position, running their streak of futility to 0 for 20 since J.T. Realmuto tied Game 1 of the series with a two-run double against Verlander.

The Phillies used six pitchers.

Noah Syndergaard, who had pitched just 1 1/3 inning in the previous 18 days, allowed a run in the first inning and another in the fourth but otherwise handled what was expected to be just a three- or four-inning outing well.

The first inning was a wild one.

The Astros took a 1-0 lead four pitches into the game. Jose Altuve doubled off the centerfield wall and moved to third when Marsh couldn't get a handle on the ball. The Phillies played the infield in and Jeremy Peña smacked a groundball up the middle for an RBI hit. If the infield was back, shortstop Bryson Stott might have had a play on the ball, so the Marsh error was costly.

Two pitches into the bottom of the first inning, the Phillies tied the game when Schwarber lined a high fastball from Verlander into the right-field seats.

Syndergaard retired eight in a row after the RBI hit by Peña in the first and got the Phillies through three innings. Manager Rob Thomson stuck with Syndergaard in the fourth. The right-hander hung a 2-2 curveball to Peña and the Astros' rookie shortstop lofted it into the left-field seats for a 2-1 lead.

The Phillies' bullpen kept things close until the Astros pushed across a run against Seranthony Dominguez in the eighth to make it a 3-1 game.

Astros reliever Rafael Montero walked two in the bottom of the eighth and the huge and loud crowd of 45,693 did its best to bring the Phillies back all the way. It almost worked as Segura delivered a one-out single to cut the Astros' lead to 3-2. With runners on the corners and one out, Astros manager Dusty Baker went to closer Ryan Pressly. He struck out Marsh on three pitches for the second out then got Schwarber to hit a hard one-hopper to first base. Trey Mancini, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the top of the inning, snared the 99-mph bullet and stepped on first to end the inning and dim the lights at Citizens Bank Park.

An inning later, with a little help from center fielder Chas McCormick, Pressly turned the lights all the way out. McCormick climbed the wall in right-center to take extra bases away from J.T. Realmuto with one out in the bottom of the ninth.

Game 6 is Saturday in Houston. 

The phrase "must-win" gets thrown around a lot, but this really is one for the Phillies.

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