November 1, 2017 / 6:05 AM / 8 months ago

Dodgers relievers finally step up to the plate

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Dodgers’ relievers slayed their recent demons to force a decisive Game Seven in their World Series clash with the Houston Astros.

Oct 31, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill throws a pitch against the Houston Astros in the first inning in game six of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Slocum/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Having been battered by Houston’s offensive surges during the series, the Dodgers bullpen responded with a backs-to-the-wall performance that secured a 3-1 win and restored confidence in Los Angeles.

With starting pitcher Rich Hill chased in the fifth inning, the Dodgers handed the ball off to four hurlers who steered the team home. “It was a complete team effort,” said Hill after watching his team mates carry the night.

“Houston has a great lineup. The biggest thing was to leave everything out on the field.” Reliever Brandon Morrow took the mound in the fifth with the bases loaded and brought the weight of his disastrous performance in Game Five on Sunday when he allowed four runs and two home runs with no outs.

Morrow worked his way out of the fifth-inning jam and recorded a scoreless inning on the night.

“To see Brandon respond the way he did, I’m not surprised and obviously very encouraged,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

“Every guy on our staff wants the baseball. And this is what they train for. This is what guys live for.”

Right-hander Kenta Maeda chipped in a scoreless seventh inning to put his own shortcomings to rest while closer Kenley Jansen struck out three batters during two perfect final innings.

“This was not the time to hang our head. We have one goal in mind – to win a World Series,” said Jansen.

The Dodgers’ bullpen has been a barometer of the team’s fortunes against the explosive Astros.

In their three wins this series, Los Angeles has kept the Astros to just four total runs. In their three defeats, they have allowed a combined 25. The relief unit had gone 28 straight innings without allowing a run before Houston broke the spell in a comeback victory in Game Two.

That shifted the tone of the series to an offensive showcase where the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer bashed and high-fived their way forward. Back in Dodgers Stadium on Tuesday, with the air cooler and the baseballs grounded, Los Angeles put the series back on their terms, relieving home fans in the sell-out crowd of 54,000.

Editing by Ian Ransom

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