Astros on brink of World Series triumph

The Houston Astros are on the brink of winning Major League Baseball's World Series after downing the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 to take a 3-2 lead.

Ace pitcher Justin Verlander overcame an early jolt to grit out a World Series win that long eluded him, rookie Jeremy Pena hit a go-ahead home run and late defensive gems from Trey Mancini and Chas McCormick ensured the Astros head home in a position to secure the championship title before home fans on Saturday night.

Of previous World Series that were tied 2-2, the Game 5 victor has gone on to win 31 of 47 times.

The Astros are seeking their second championship - the other was a scandal-tainted title in 2017.

They went ahead just four pitches in against Noah Syndergaard on Pena's run-scoring single. Then Philly's Kyle Schwarber homered leading off the bottom half, harkening to the five-run lead Verlander wasted in Houston's opening 6-5, 10-inning loss.

Pena had three hits, including an RBI single in the first and an eighth-inning single that set up Yordan Alvarez's run-scoring groundout.

He made a leaping catch at shortstop to foil the Phillies in the third, then regained the lead an inning later with his fourth postseason homer. He's the first rookie shortstop ever to go deep in the Fall Classic.

After Jean Segura's one-out RBI single off Rafael Montero in the eighth, Ryan Pressly escaped a first-and-third jam by striking out Brandon Marsh and Schwarber on a nearly 100 mph one-hopper that was snagged over first base by Mancini.

The backup first baseman had pinch hit in the top half after 2021 Gold Glove winner Yuli Gurriel got into a collision during a rundown. Mancini fell into foul territory and reached back with his left foot to touch the bag.

McCormick helped Pressly finish a five-out save. The center fielder made a leaping backhand catch against the chain-link fence in right-center on J.T. Realmuto for the second out of the ninth.

After Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch, Nick Castellanos grounded out, ending a 3-hour, 57-minute thriller.

Verlander is among just five Astros remaining from the team caught using video to steal signs in 2017.

He had been 0-6 with an unseemly 6.07 ERA in eight World Series starts dating to his rookie season with Detroit in 2006, a blotch in the career of 244-game winner likely to earn his third Cy Young Award this season.

Pitching with an extra day of rest for his arm and stubble on his face, the 39-year-old right-hander gave up just the one run and four hits over five innings with four walks and six strikeouts -- including four in a row in the fourth and fifth. He lowered that Series ERA to 5.63.

Philadelphia lost consecutive games for the first time this postseason.