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Dodgers tie series on Pederson’s homerun

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson hits a three-run home run against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning of Game 4 of baseball’s World Series in Houston. (AP)

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joc Pederson hits a three-run home run against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning of Game 4 of baseball’s World Series in Houston. (AP)

HOUSTON (AFP) – Joc Pederson smashed a three-run home run to power a five-run final inning Saturday and the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled level in the World Series by beating Houston 6-2.

Los Angeles equalized Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final at 2-2 ahead of Sunday’s game five, ensuring the matchup will return to Los Angeles for game six on Tuesday.

Four Dodgers pitchers combined to toss a two-hit triumph, the fewest hits allowed to a team in a World Series game since 1995.

The Dodgers seek a seventh championship but their first since 1988 while the Astros are trying for the first World Series title in their 55-year history.

The Astros had been 7-0 at home in the playoffs this year, matching the best post-season start in major league history.

It was practically a must-win game for the Dodgers, since teams falling behind 3-1 in the Series have lost 84 percent of the time while those pulling level at 2-2 have won 45 percent of the time.

Dodgers first baseman Cody Bellinger had been 0-for-13 in the World Series with eight strikeouts until he doubled in the seventh inning and scored on Logan Forsythe’s single to level the game 1-1.

Still deadlocked entering the ninth, Astros relief pitcher Ken Giles allowed a Corey Seager single, walked Justin Turner and gave up a double to Bellinger that scored Seager to put the Dodgers ahead to stay.

That ended Houston’s major-league record playoff run of more than 70 home innings without trailing.

Austin Barnes drove in another run with a sacrifice fly and Pederson followed with his homer to produce all the runs the Dodgers needed.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen surrendered a second hit, a homer by Alex Bregman, or Los Angeles would have boasted the first World Series one-hitter since 1967.

Dodgers left-handed starting pitcher Alex Wood and Astros right-hander Charlie Morton dominated the first five scoreless innings.

Wood baffled Houston batters through 5 2/3 hitless innings, the 26-year-old American left-hander sparking talk of the first World Series no-hitter since the 1956 perfect game by Don Larsen of the New York Yankees against the then-Brooklyn Dodgers.

But Houston’s George Springer blasted a 3-ball, 1-strike offering over the left-field wall in the sixth inning for a home run on the only hit Wood surrendered, giving the Astros a 1-0 lead and ending the Dodgers’ deepest no-hit bid in World Series history.

Morton surrendered one hit, a game-opening single by Chris Taylor, while striking out seven in facing the minimum 15 batters over five innings.

Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel was still playing in the World Series despite a racist gesture in the dugout Friday aimed at Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish of the Dodgers.

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred on Saturday gave Gurriel a five-game ban at the start of the 2018 season for actions caught by television cameras rather than suspend him for any World Series contests.