HOUSTON — Stephen Strasburg took a gem into the ninth inning and Juan Soto ran all the way to first base with his bat following a go-ahead home run, the same way Houston slugger Alex Bregman did earlier.

Washington has matched the Astros pitch for pitch, hit for hit, win for win — even home run celebration for home run celebration.

Strasburg battled without his best fastball to throw five-hit ball for 8 1/3 innings, and now it’s onto Game 7 to decide the first World Series in which the visiting team won the first six games.

Eaton and Soto hit solo homers off former Goochland High standout Justin Verlander in the fifth, Anthony Rendon had five RBIs, including with a two-run homer in the seventh, and the Nationals beat the Astros 7-2 Tuesday night to tie the Series at three games apiece.

Now, it's onto a winner-take-all Game 7 to decide the first Fall Classic in which the visiting team won the first six.

"It's weird, really. You can't explain it," Washington manager Dave Martinez said.

Fired up after a disputed call at first base went against them in the seventh, the Nationals padded their lead moments later when Rendon homered off Will Harris. Martinez, still enraged at umpires, was ejected during the seventh-inning stretch, screaming as a pair of his coaches held him back while the crowd sang along to “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

Rendon added a two-run double off Chris Devenski in the ninth to just about seal it after Strasburg gutted through without his best fastball to throw five-hit ball for 8 1/3 innings.

Washington pitching coach Paul Menhart told Strasburg after the first inning that he was tipping pitches. Strasburg allowed only three more hits.

"Started shaking my glove, so they didn't know what I was throwing," he said. "It's something that has burned me in the past, and it burned me there in the first."

Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, boosted by an injection of painkiller, is primed to return from an irritated nerve in his neck to start Game 7, Martinez said before the game. Scherzer was warming up in the seventh before Rendon’s homer, then sat down as Martinez became the first manager tossed from a Series game since Atlanta’s Bobby Cox in 1996.

"Anytime we get Max on the mound for us, we like our chances," Rendon said.

Now the Nationals will attempt their ultimate comeback in a year in which they were written off time after time, hoping for the first title in the 51-season history of a franchise that started as the Montreal Expos and the first for Washington since the Senators in 1924. Zack Greinke will be on the mound for the Astros, who led the majors with 107 wins and are seeking their second title in three seasons.

Visiting teams have won three straight Game 7s in the Series since the Cardinals defeated Texas at home in 2011.

What can the Nationals expect from Scherzer on Wednesday night?

“I’m good,” he said.

But whether the Game 1 winner, known for his incredible intensity, will be able to cut loose at full force will soon be revealed.

“Max will pitch until his neck decides he can’t pitch anymore,” Martinez said. “I can’t see myself telling Max, ‘You’re only going to go 75 pitches.’ He’s going to want to go out there and go as long as he can.”

If Scherzer wins, it might well go down in sports lore, along with Curt Schilling’s bloody sock, Kirk Gibson hobbling around the bases and the night Willis Reed limped back on the court at Madison Square Garden.

Healthy, Scherzer went 3-0 with a 2.16 ERA this postseason in four starts and one relief appearance.

Greinke gave up one run over 4 2/3 innings in his first World Series start when the Astros took Game 3. Acquired from Arizona at the trade deadline for these big games, the six-time All-Star is 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in four starts this postseason.

The Nationals, meanwhile, tried everything to make the ailing Scherzer comfortable, especially on the flight from Washington back to Houston.

“He couldn’t do anything for 24 hours,” Martinez said. “We put him in a neck brace. We sat him up in first class, so he had a lot of room.”

Washington AB R H BI W K Avg

Turner ss 5 2 2 0 0 0 .185

Eaton rf 2 2 1 1 1 0 .333

Rendon 3b 4 1 3 5 1 0 .292

Soto lf 5 1 1 1 0 0 .304

Kendrick dh 4 0 1 0 0 0 .227

Cabrera 2b 4 0 0 0 0 2 .278

Zimmerman 1b 3 0 0 0 1 2 .190

Robles cf 4 0 0 0 0 3 .143

Gomes c 4 1 1 0 0 1 .250

Totals 35 7 9 7 3 8

Houston AB R H BI W K Avg

Springer cf 4 1 2 0 0 0 .348

Altuve 2b 3 0 0 1 0 1 .321

Brantley lf 4 0 0 0 0 1 .333

Bregman 3b 4 1 2 1 0 0 .231

Gurriel 1b 3 0 0 0 1 0 .280

Alvarez dh 3 0 0 0 1 0 .429

Correa ss 4 0 1 0 0 2 .174

Chirinos c 4 0 0 0 0 2 .267

Reddick rf 3 0 1 0 0 1 .167

Totals 32 2 6 2 2 7

Washington 100 020 202 — 7 9 0

Houston 200 000 000 — 2 6 0

LOB‑Washington 6, Houston 6. 2B‑Turner (1), Rendon (3), Springer 2 (4), Correa (2). HR‑Eaton (2), off Verlander; Soto (3), off Verlander; Rendon (1), off Harris; Bregman (3), off Strasburg. RBIs‑Rendon 5 (7), Eaton (4), Soto (6), Altuve (1), Bregman (8). SF‑Altuve. S‑Eaton.

Washington IP H R ER W K P ERA

Strasburg 81/3 5 2 2 2 7 104 2.51

Doolittle 2/3 1 0 0 0 0 11 0.00 W: Strasburg 2-0

Houston IP H R ER W K P ERA

Verlander 5 5 3 3 3 3 93 5.73

Peacock 11/3 1 1 1 0 2 21 3.00

Harris 2/3 1 1 1 0 0 5 2.25

Pressly 1 0 0 0 0 2 14 10.13

Devenski 1 2 2 2 0 1 22 9.00 L: Verlander 0-2

T‑3:37. A‑43,384 (41,168)

Enter your email address and submit to receive RTD Sports emails each weekday morning

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.