HOUSTON (AP)Aaron Nola was nowhere near perfect for the Philadelphia Phillies in Houston this time
Nola was done after 4 1/3 innings in Game 1 of the World Series, though he retired the final six batters he faced and left in a tie game after the Phillies rallied from an early 5-0 deficit.
Just 3 1/2 weeks earlier at Minute Maid Park, Nola was perfect through 6 2/3 innings against the Astros before giving up two hits. Philadelphia won 3-0 that night to clinch its first playoff berth since 2011.
The World Series got off to a good start for Nola when he opened with consecutive strikeouts of Jose Altuve and American League Championship Series MVP Jeremy Pena.
But Kyle Tucker homered twice off Nola, the second a laborious plate appearance that ended with a 95 mph sinker left over the middle of the plate.
Nola got ahead 0-2 before missing with two breaking balls, and a foul ball and a ball got it to a full count. Tucker didn’t miss on the sinker, hitting it nearly 400 feet into the Astros bullpen in right-center to make it 5-0.
That was the last batter Nola allowed to reach base.
While it appeared Nola’s night might be over after that, the Phillies scored three runs as likely AL CY Young Award winner Justin Verlander had a 31-pitchin the top of the fourth. Nola came back out to get his only 1-2-3 inning.
J.T. Realmuto’s two-run double in the fifth tied it. Nola struck out Pena again to open the bottom of the inning, and with left-handed slugger Yordan Alvarez coming up, manager Rob Thomson replaced him with lefty Jose Alvarado.
Nola struck out five and walked two. He allowed six hits while throwing 52 of 81 pitches for strikes.
Going into the World Series, that loss to Nola on Oct. 3 was the last for the Astros.
The Phillies right-hander then made his playoff debut with 12 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run as Philadelphia swept the NL wild-card round against St. Louis and upset defending World Series champion Atlanta in the Division Series.
But he struggled in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series, allowing six runs on seven hits over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to San Diego. His older brother, Austin Nola, had a key RBI single off Aaron during that Padres victory.
The night after Nola beat the Astros, Verlander struck out 10 over five innings in his last start of the regular season, and the bullpen gave up a no-hit bid in the ninth inning of that 10-0 win. Houston also won the series finale, then swept both the AL Division Series and AL Championship Series.
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