World Series hero Yordan Alvarez came to the Houston Astros' rescue again on Friday with a bases-clearing double to ignite a 6-3 comeback win against the Chicago White Sox.

Alvarez, who hit the go-ahead home run in the clinching Game 6 of the World Series in November, was 0-2 with a walk when he stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning with two outs and the bases loaded.

He got on a hanging sinker and drove it to deep left-centre, cannoning off the wall for a three-run double to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead.

It comes after Alvarez connected on an Opening Day home run in Thursday's loss, as he continues to make his case as arguably the best left-handed hitter in the sport.

While Alvarez got the Astros over the line, it was Kyle Tucker initially sparking the comeback, finally getting Houston on the board with a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

White Sox third-baseman Yoan Moncada was the only player to record three hits in the game – including a ground-rule double to bring in Chicago's third run – but the road team could not get anything going after Astros starter Cristian Javier was taken out of the game.

The Astros bullpen – with an inning each from Phil Maton, Seth Martinez, Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero – combined for four scoreless frames, with five strikeouts, three hits and no walks.

Soler, Chisholm and Luzardo get the Marlins back on track

After dropping their home opener with reigning Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara on the mound, the Miami Marlins rode a strong start from Jesus Luzardo to a 2-1 triumph against the New York Mets.

Luzardo pitched five-and-two-thirds innings of scoreless action, striking out five while walking four and allowing just two hits. 

He was given an early lead to work with after Jorge Soler's second-inning solo home run, and rising star Jazz Chisholm Jr doubled the advantage with another solo shot in the eighth.

New York's top hitter Pete Alonso made it a contest again with his first home run of the year off Marlins closer A.J. Puk in the ninth, but Puk was able to finish off the save.

Padres fall to surprise 0-2 start

The Colorado Rockies have handed the San Diego Padres a rocky start to their season after sealing at least a road series split with a 4-1 victory.

The Rockies came into San Diego and upset the Padres on Opening Day with a 7-2 result, and despite being one of the World Series favourites, the home side's offense failed to fire yet again in a poor display.

Kim Ha-seong finished with three of the Padres' five total hits, while Yonathan Daza, Elehuris Montero and Charlie Blackmon all collected multiple hits for the Rockies, highlighted by Blackmon's two-run homer in the fifth inning.

The Padres will hope to right the ship in the third of their four-game series on Saturday.

Coming off arguably the most entertaining World Baseball Classic ever, the 2023 Major League Baseball season promises to deliver yet again as 30 teams battle it out for two World Series spots.

Reigning champions the Houston Astros wrote themselves into the record books last season by reaching the American League Championship Series for the sixth consecutive year, and while they may have lost their Cy Young Award winner, they have re-tooled and will expect strong development from their cast of young stars.

While they are the deserved favourites, the San Diego Padres and New York Mets have pushed all their chips into the middle and are in World Series-or-bust mode, joining the New York Yankees as the league's three most expensive payrolls.

The World Baseball Classic showed its not only the United States where the talent lies, but Japanese fans in particular will be keeping an extra close eye on proceedings as superstar Shohei Ohtani looks to take home his second AL MVP and Masataka Yoshida and Kodai Senga enter the rookie ranks.

With plenty of interesting storylines to choose from, it only makes sense to start with the kings of the castle.

Astros remain the team to beat

On their way to the 2022 World Series title, the Astros advanced to the final four teams for the sixth consecutive season. 

It is the second-longest streak in MLB history, only bettered by the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s as they did it on eight consecutive tries, although there was a one-year gap in the middle due to the 1994 playoffs being cancelled in the strike season.

This sustained period of excellence has been led by future Hall-of-Famer Jose Altuve and a strong supporting case of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker, as well as former star Carlos Correa and the future of the franchise Yordan Alvarez, while their starting pitching has been almost unmatched.

In 2022, Houston had two pitchers finish top-five in AL Cy Young Award voting with winner Justin Verlander and fifth-placed Framber Valdez, and while the former has left, they also unearthed high-upside rotation pieces Cristian Javier and Luis Garcia.

Add in their dominant bullpen, led by Ryne Stanek and Ryan Pressly, as well as the best rookie in the last season's playoffs – Jeremy Pena – and the free agent signing of former MVP Jose Abreu, and this Astros team does not figure to be going anywhere.

Will the Padres or Mets be able to spend their way to a title?

The Mets boast the most expensive team in the sport this season, with a combined payroll of $357million – $75m more than their cross-town rivals, the second-placed Yankees ($272m).

They have taken some significant risk by committing a combined $86.6m to their two ageing aces as 38-year-old Max Scherzer and 40-year-old Verlander take home $43.3m each, but with six Cy Young Awards between them, it is likely to be money well-spent.

The Mets will be hurt by losing star closer Edwin Diaz for the season after tearing up his knee celebrating a WBC win with Puerto Rico, but they have 28-year-old slugger Pete Alonso on a bargain deal as he enters his final years of arbitration before an inevitable monstrous extension.

Meanwhile, the Padres come in at the third-most expensive team at $249m, and while they do not have the Hall of Fame-level talent leading their pitching rotation like the Mets, they may have the best batting line-up in the game.

Their four All-Stars leading the way – Xander Bogaerts, Fernando Tatis, Juan Soto and Manny Machado – could all have MVP-calibre seasons, and they give the Padres a real chance at being this season's highest-scoring team.

Can anybody deny Ohtani his second MVP?

If he was not already the biggest star in the sport, Ohtani's brilliant performance in guiding Japan to their third World Baseball Classic cemented his status as the top dog.

An All-Star designated hitter with 80 home runs across the past two seasons – a total that has only been exceeded by Aaron Judge (101) and tied by Vladimir Guerrero Jr (80) – Ohtani also emerged as one of the sport's most dominant pitchers in 2022.

His 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings was just 0.1 behind league-leader Carlos Rodon (12.0), while also posting the sixth-best ERA (2.33) among qualifying starters.

It is the kind of two-way dominance not seen at this level since Babe Ruth, and it took a historic season from Aaron Judge to deny Ohtani his second consecutive MVP.

Judge finished with 16 more home runs than any other player, breaking the American League and New York Yankees single-season record while also posting a gaudy batting average of .311 as he flirted with a Triple Crown.

If he can replicate that kind of season, he will prove he really is one of the greatest hitters of his generation and will likely earn the recognition again, but the overwhelming likelihood is some regression from the Bronx bomber.

Even with Judge's fine campaign, voters still viewed it as a neck-and-neck race with Ohtani as his combined value as essentially two All-Stars in one roster spot makes his argument almost infallible – especially if his Los Angeles Angels finally make the playoffs.

As long as he can remain healthy, expect Ohtani to lift his second AL MVP as he heads into perhaps the most anticipated free agency in American sports since LeBron James' move to Miami.

Will new Red Sox signing and WBC star Yoshida be the top rookie?

A bevy of super-talented American prospects including Baltimore Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll are expected to emerge as top talents this season – but no rookie should have higher expectations than Boston Red Sox signing Yoshida.

Yoshida, 29, is a four-time All-Star in Japan's top professional league, and boasts a career batting average of .327 with 133 home runs in his six seasons with the Orix Buffaloes.

The Red Sox ended up the highest bidder for his services, forking out a five-year contract worth $90million, on top of a $15.4m posting fee to the Buffaloes, and they were given a sneak peek at the World Baseball Classic.

En route to Japan's third title – while no other country has more than one – Yoshida earned a spot on the All-Classic team by breaking the RBI record with 13 in seven games, while slashing .409/.531/.727 and hitting a pair of home runs.

He is not the only Japanese veteran trying to make his mark as a rookie this season, as 30-year-old New York Mets starting pitcher Senga will have every opportunity to become a star after signing a five-year, $75m deal with one of the most-watched teams in baseball.

The Houston Astros' eight-time All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve will be out of action for at least two months following surgery on his fractured right thumb.

Altuve sustained the injury playing for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic last Saturday after being struck on the thumb from a pitch by the United States' Daniel Bard.

The Astros confirmed in a statement that the second baseman had undergone surgery and subsequently will not resume baseball activities at least two months.

"Altuve will remain in Houston since Spring Training is in its final week," the Astros statement said. "The Astros ballclub is set to fly to Houston following their Florida Spring Training game on Sunday in West Palm Beach."

The 2023 MLB season commences next Thursday, with the Astros opening their campaign against the Chicago White Sox.

Altuve was a key part of Houston's 2022 World Series-winning team, hitting .300 with 28 home runs, 39 doubles, 18 steals and 103 runs while earning his sixth Silver Slugger Award and finishing fifth in AL MVP voting.

The 32-year-old won the 2017 AL MVP – the same year he helped the Astros win the franchise’s first World Series championship.

Among active players, Altuve ranks seventh in hits (1,935), eighth in doubles (379) and 12th in runs (986).

He was the second MLB All-Star to suffer a serious injury at the World Baseball Classic after New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz tore his patellar tendon, ruling him out for the entire season.

Houston Astros All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve suffered a fractured right thumb at the World Baseball Classic and will require surgery, sidelining him indefinitely.

Astros general manager Dana Brown revealed the severity of the injury on Sunday, a day after Altuve was hit by a pitch from reliever Daniel Bard in the fifth inning of Venezuela’s 9-7 quarter-final loss to the United States.

The Astros said he will undergo surgery in the coming days, and they will then determine a prognosis for him.

There is no official timeline for when he will return, but it has been reported that similar injuries have sidelined players for eight-to-10 weeks.

A major part of Houston’s dominance over the last half-dozen years, the 32-year-old Altuve is coming off his eighth All-Star season.

In helping the Astros win the 2022 World Series, Altuve hit .300 with 28 home runs, 39 doubles, 18 steals and 103 runs while earning his sixth Silver Slugger Award and finishing fifth in AL MVP voting.

He won the 2017 AL MVP – the same year he helped the Astros win the franchise’s first World Series championship.

Among active players, Altuve ranks seventh in hits (1,935), eighth in doubles (379) and 12th in runs (986).

He is the second MLB All-Star to suffer a serious injury at the World Baseball Classic after elite New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz tore his patellar tendon, ruling him out for the entire season. 

The Houston Astros locked up World Series hero Cristian Javier on a five-year contract extension on Friday worth $66million.

First reported by Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle, securing the long-term services of their 25-year-old budding ace was one of new Astros general manager Dana Brown's "foremost objectives during his first month on the job".

After primarily operating as a relief pitcher in 2021, with only nine starts among his 36 total appearances, Javier was promoted to a full-time starter in 2022.

He made 25 starts, and his 2.54 ERA was the second-best on the team among players to pitch at least 100 innings, trailing only AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander (1.75 ERA).

The Dominican-born Javier made headlines in June when he struck out 13 batters in a combined no-hitter at Yankee Stadium, and his star went up another level in the postseason.

In Game 4 of the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, Javier threw six no-hit innings to set up only the second World Series no-hitter in MLB history.

From his two combined starts against the Yankees and the Phillies in the postseason, Javier pitched 11-and-a-third innings for 14 strikeouts, one hit, five walks and no runs.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, the new deal will pay Javier – who has never made more than $749,100 in any of his three seasons so far – $3m plus a $2m signing bonus in 2023, $7m in 2024, $10m in 2025, and $21m in both 2026 and 2027 when he would have been eligible to enter free agency.

Days after losing one two-time Cy Young Award winner to free agency, the New York Mets have bolstered their rotation by signing a three-time Cy Young Award winner.

Justin Verlander has agreed to two-year, $86million contract with the Mets. The deal, which was reported on Monday, includes a vesting third-year option.

The signing reunites Verlander with former Detroit Tigers team-mate and fellow three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer and helps the Mets fill a spot in the rotation after Jacob deGrom signed a five-year deal with the Texas Rangers on Friday.

Verlander helped the Houston Astros to the 2022 World Series title and the Mets are hoping he can help the franchise to their first championship since 1986.

He will turn 40 years old in February but is still one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball.

Despite missing the entire 2021 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, Verlander was the unanimous winner of his third Cy Young Award in 2022 after leading the majors with a 1.75 ERA and 0.83 WHIP, while going 18-4 with 185 strikeouts to 29 walks in 28 starts.

A nine-time All-Star, Verlander captured his first Cy Young Award in 2011 – a season in which he also won the AL MVP. He also won the 2019 AL Cy Young Award, as well as the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year Award.

For his career, Verlander is 244-133 with 3,198 strike outs, ranking first in both wins and strikeouts among active pitchers.

Verlander's historically fared well against NL East opponents, which bodes well for the Mets, as he has posted a 2.14 ERA against those teams in his career – his lowest ERA against any division. His career ERA is 3.24.

In four starts against NL East clubs last season, he went 4-0 without giving up a run over 25 innings, while striking out 26. 

The reigning World Series champion Houston Astros have struck quickly to fill one of their few glaring needs after agreeing to a reported three-year contract with 2020 American League MVP Jose Abreu.

Abreu, who had spent his entire nine-year major league career with the Chicago White Sox, will earn $19.5 million per season, according to Houston television station KRIV.

The 35-year-old first baseman was named the AL’s top player during the coronavirus-shortened 2020 campaign after batting .317 with 19 home runs and an MLB-leading 60 RBIs in 60 games that season.

Though his home run total dipped from 30 in 2021 to 15 this past season, Abreu finished fifth in the AL in both batting average (.304) and on-base percentage (.378) after drawing a career-high 62 walks. Abreu also recorded the lowest strikeout rate of his MLB career at 16.2 per cent in 2022.

Abreu’s addition makes it unlikely the team will re-sign incumbent first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who struggled to a .242 average and a .647 OPS this past season and turned 38 in June.

It is the second notable signing the Astros have made this offseason after retaining reliever Rafael Montero to a three-year, $34.5 million contract earlier this month.

Houston still hopes to bring back its most prominent free agent in 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who is reportedly seeking a deal similar to the three-year, $130 million contract the Mets gave Max Scherzer last offseason.

Justin Verlander joined an exclusive club after being crowned the AL Cy Young Award winner for the third time, while Sandy Alcantara was voted NL winner unanimously as well.

The 39-year-old, who became a two-time World Series champion last month with the Houston Astros, received a unanimous vote after posting an MLB-best 1.75 ERA and striking out 185 batters in 175 innings over 28 starts in the 2022 regular season.

Verlander (2010) beat out Dylan Cease (97) of the Chicago White Sox and Alek Manoah (87) of the Toronto Blue Jays for the award, having also been crowned in 2011 and 2019.

The award comes after Verlander spent most of the past two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Verlander became the fourth-oldest Cy Young winner and is the 11th player to win the award three or more times.

The unanimous vote for both Verlander and Miami Marlins right-hander Alcantara marks the second time that has occurred in the same year, previously only in 1968 for Bob Gibson and Denny McLain.

Alcantara had the majors-best 228-and-two-third innings pitched, throwing six complete games, with a regular-season 2.28 ERA, with 207 strikeouts.

The 27-year-old was the first NL unanimous vote winner since Clayton Kershaw in 2014. Alcantara (210) beat Max Fried (72) of the Atlanta Braves and Julio Urias (66) of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the award.

Two-time AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander entered free agency less than a week after winning the World Series with the Houston Astros.

Verlander exercised the player option in his contract, as he seeks a substantive pay rise and multi-year deal in the open market, with the Astros due to pay him $25 million in 2023.

The 39-year-old is firmly in line to win the 2022 AL Cy Young Award, which will be announced on Thursday, after posting a 1.75 ERA, striking out 185 batters in 175 innings over 28 starts this season.

The Astros have resolved to do their best to retain Verlander, with owner Jim Crane and general manager James Click discussing the pitcher's future at length this week.

"We've been talking to him and we're working on it. We're going to do our best to try to keep him," Crane said on Wednesday.

"What's great about this team is the pitching depth, so deep, and hopefully Verlander's on that list."

Verlander claimed his career-first World Series victory during the Astros' recent triumph, in what was his ninth WS start.

The Astros pitching staff includes Framber Valdez, Ryan Pressly, Bryan Abreu, Cristian Javier, Hector Neris, Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Lance McCullers Jr.

Valdez, Pressly, Javier and Verlander were all named as nominees in the All-MLB Team on Thursday.

Exciting Seattle Mariners youngster Julio Rodriguez has been rewarded for his spectacular rookie season as one of the three American League (AL) outfielders named as Silver Sluggers on Thursday.

Rodriguez, 21, had arguably the best rookie season since Aaron Judge finished MVP runner-up with his debut campaign for the New York Yankees back in 2017.

In 132 games, Rodriguez led all rookies with 28 home runs, and became the third rookie to ever tally at least 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in their first year. He is the fourth rookie outfielder to ever win a Silver Slugger, joining fellow Mariner Ichiro Suzuki (2001), three-time MVP Mike Trout (2012) and Judge (2017).

Likely this season's AL MVP, New York's Judge joined Rodriguez in the outfield to collect his third Silver Slugger, with Trout filling the third outfield spot. 

Texas Rangers first-baseman Nathaniel Lowe, Houston Astros second-baseman Jose Altuve, Cleveland Guardians third-baseman Jose Ramirez and Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk complete the AL infield. Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez is in the designated hitter spot, and Atlanta Braves batting champion Luis Arraez was named as the utility.

The San Diego Padres landed three players in the NL team, with Juan Soto named in the outfield, while Josh Bell took the DH slot and Brandon Drury is the utility.

Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Trea Turner (shortstop) and Mookie Betts (OF) made the cut, as did St Louis Cardinals duo Paul Goldschmidt (first base) and Nolan Arenado (third base).

The Philadelphia Phillies had both J.T. Realmuto (catcher) and Kyle Schwarber (OF), and New York Mets second-baseman Jeff McNeil completed the line-up.

Exciting Seattle Mariners youngster Julio Rodriguez has been rewarded for his spectacular rookie season as one of the three American League outfielders named as Silver Sluggers on Thursday.

Rodriguez, 21, had arguably the best rookie season since Aaron Judge finished MVP runner-up with his debut campaign for the New York Yankees back in 2017.

In 132 games, Rodriguez led all rookies with 28 home runs, and became the third rookie to ever tally at least 25 homers and 25 stolen bases in their first year. He is the fourth rookie outfielder to ever win a Silver Slugger, joining fellow Mariner Ichiro Suzuki (2001), three-time MVP Mike Trout (2012) and Judge (2017).

Likely this season's AL MVP, New York's Judge joined Rodriguez in the outfield to collect his third Silver Slugger, with Trout filling the third outfield spot. 

Texas Rangers first-baseman Nathaniel Lowe, Houston Astros second-baseman Jose Altuve, Cleveland Guardians third-baseman Jose Ramirez and Toronto Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk complete the AL infield. Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez is in the designated hitter spot, and Atlanta Braves batting champion Luis Arraez was named as the utility.

The San Diego Padres landed three players in the NL team, with Juan Soto named in the outfield, while Josh Bell took the DH slot and Brandon Drury is the utility.

Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Trea Turner (shortstop) and Mookie Betts (OF) made the cut, as did St Louis Cardinals duo Paul Goldschmidt (first base) and Nolan Arenado (third base).

The Philadelphia Phillies had both J.T. Realmuto (catcher) and Kyle Schwarber (OF), and New York Mets second-baseman Jeff McNeil completed the line-up.

Jeremy Pena offered an insight into his mentality going from Carlos Correa's replacement to becoming the second rookie ever to win the MVP of the ALCS and World Series.

Pena's remarkable postseason was crowned on Saturday as the Houston Astros lifted the World Series with a 4-1 Game 6 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies at Minute Maid Park.

The 25-year-old shortstop was named World Series MVP after having 10 hits, five runs including one homer and three RBIs throughout the six games.

Pena went two-for-four with a run scored in Game 6, capping a miraculous rookie season after coming into the side to replace two-time All-Star Correa who left after last season on free agency for the Minnesota Twins.

"I'd say the hardest part was just blocking everything that's not part of the game," Pena told reporters.

"There's a saying that you can't sink a ship with water around. It sinks if water gets inside. So I just try to stay strong and keep the water outside my head.

"Just keep playing my game, show up every single day, and just trust in my preparation."

Pena's rise was also capped by becoming the first-ever rookie shortstop to win the Gold Glove.

"It has a lot to do with my family, my upbringing," Pena said about his confidence.

"Shoutout to my teammates as well. They took me in since day one. They gave me the confidence to just go out and play my game and, yeah, shoutout to them, man. This is special."

Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is feeling joy not relief after ending his record for most games managed without a World Series title with his side's Game 6 triumph on Saturday.

The Astros defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 at Minute Maid Park to clinch the franchise's second World Series title and 73-year-old Baker's first as manager.

Baker, who first managed in the majors in 1993 with the San Francisco Giants, has led 3,883 games for 2,093 wins, with nine divisional titles and three pennants but Saturday's World Series crown marks the pinnacle.

"Now we can quit talking about it," Baker said when asked about breaking record during the post-game trophy presentation.

Baker's adoration was symbolised when he was mobbed by players and staff in the dugout when Kyle Tucker plucked the catch from Nick Castellanos' fly ball to right field to clinch victory.

"It's not relief," Baker said during the post-game press conference. "It's just sheer joy and thankfulness. It's not relief at all. Everybody was talking about it more than I was even thinking about it.

"I always said before that if I win one, I'll win two, but you got to win one first. The one was hell to get to this point. But it was well worth it. I'm in a great city, with great people, great fans, and I got a great ball club.

"I tried not to dwell on it, but tried to have faith and perseverance and knowing that with the right team and the right personnel and right everything that this is going to happen."

The Astros triumph comes after the franchise competed in four of the past six World Series, winning the title in 2017.

That period, however, was tarnished by the sign stealing scandal and Baker, who stepped in with the Astros in 2020 after A.J. Hinch's firing, spoke about the vindication this year's success offers.

"I think that's what drove this team," Baker said. "That's what motivated them. The boos and the jeers that we got all over the country, it bothered these guys, but it also motivated them at the same time.

"It wasn't an us against the world thing. It was more of a come together even closer-type thing. And what happened before, it doesn't ever pass over completely. But we have turned the page and hopefully we'll continue this run."

The Astros had to rally from behind after Kyle Schwarber's solo blast, with Yordan Alvarez delivering a three-run home run in the sixth inning.

Alvarez crushed Jose Alvarado's third pitch over center-field after Phillies manager Rob Thomson had opted to pull starter Zack Wheeler from the game with two runners on. Wheeler admitted after the game he was surprised by that decision which Thomson defended.

"I'm sure he was," Thomson told reporters. "He still had his good stuff. I just thought that that was a key moment in the game and that was a momentum swing that I thought Alvarado had a chance to strike him out. It was just I thought the matchup was better with Alvarado on Alvarez at that time."

The Phillies were the last side to book their postseason spot with an 87-75 regular-season record and reached the World Series after stirring victories over the St Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres.

"They have accomplished a lot," Thomson added. "It's still disappointing, though.

"I told them after the game, 'you guys have nothing to be ashamed of. You don't need to hang your head for anybody', because they came to the ballpark every day and worked hard and played hard and played as a team, had a lot of fun. They grinded through a lot of obstacles. I'm just so proud of all of them. I really am."

The Houston Astros have claimed their second-ever World Series title with a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday.

Yordan Alvarez's monster three-run blast in the sixth inning flipped the game after Kyle Schwarber's solo blast had put the Phillies ahead at the top of the same inning.

The triumph may offer some vindication for the Astros, who's lone 2017 World Series title was tarnished in the eyes of many by the sign stealing scandal.

Astros manager Dusty Baker secured his first-ever World Series title in his third appearance, having won 2,093 MLB games, nine divisional titles and three pennants.

Starting pitcher Framber Valdez was outstanding with nine strikeouts across six innings, allowing only two hits and one earned run.

Schwarber's solo shot over right field was his sixth homer of the postseason. It came after Valdez had given up only one home run all regular season to left-handers.

But the Astros rallied immediately with Phillies starter Zack Wheeler, who was brilliant with five strikeouts, pulled after Jose Altuve and World Series MVP Jeremy Pena got on base. Alvarez hit reliever Jose Alvarado's fourth pitch beyond the hitter's backdrop over center-field for a 450-foot three-run blast.

Alvarado struggled to regain his composure, with designated hitter Christian Vazquez driving in Alex Bregman for a fourth run.

The Astros' sixth-inning rally seemed to suck the life out of the Phillies who had led the World Series 2-1.

Astros closer Ryan Pressly finished the job, getting the outs of Rhys Hoskins, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos, who was caught at right-field by Kyle Tucker for the win.

Justin Verlander was relieved his work since his Game 1 start was rewarded with a belated first World Series win on Thursday – even if it was still "a heck of a grind".

Verlander pitched five innings in the Houston Astros' 3-2 Game 5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, giving them a 3-2 series lead.

The nine-time All-Star won the World Series with the Astros in 2017, yet he finished the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers with an 0-1 record.

Verlander did start the Game 2 win versus the Dodgers, but team-mate Chris Devenski was the winning pitcher as the Astros rescued an 11-inning victory.

Heading into Thursday's meeting with the Phillies, Verlander was 0-6 through eight starts in the World Series for his career.

His latest frustration on baseball's biggest stage had seen him depart a Game 1 defeat at 5-5 after five innings.

But Verlander made amends this time, securing a 2-1 lead as he only allowed a Kyle Schwarber leadoff home run from four hits, setting up Ryan Pressly – who closed out a combined no-hitter in Game 4 – to complete the job.

Speaking to MLB Network afterwards, Verlander said he "went back to the drawing board" following his previous start and made the most of the delay in the series after Game 3 was postponed.

"Honestly, the extra day helped me," the 39-year-old said.

"I was able to throw an extra bullpen [because] we got rained out; I threw two bullpens in a row, and I knew I had a lot of work to do. It wasn't easy adjustments, so I needed as many reps as I could.

"After the first few sliders I threw tonight, I was like, 'oh, thank goodness'."

Asked for his thoughts on the long-awaited breakthrough win, Verlander replied: "I don't even know, man. I don't think it's set in yet.

"What an incredible game, first of all. This win, much like most of the wins in my career, doesn't happen without the guys who came in behind me – I only went five innings.

"It was a heck of a grind, especially the first three innings. These guys had a great game plan. After last night, I felt like they completely changed their game plan, were trying to get on top of heaters.

"Thank goodness my slider and curveball clicked, and I was able to lean on those a little bit in the latter half of my outing."

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