Cody Bellinger’s bat warms up just in time for Dodgers to even World Series

HOUSTON — All Los Angeles Dodgers starter Alex Wood needed was a little help. A little help was all he got from the Cody Bellinger, but “little” never looked so huge.

Bellinger stroked a go-ahead double in the ninth inning Saturday off Ken Giles as the Dodgers edged the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 4 of the World Series to knot the Fall Classic at two games apiece.

Bellinger also figured into L.A.’s initial tying run, scoring on Logan Forsythe‘s single in the seventh after Bellinger’s double chased Houston starter Charlie Morton. Morton had dominated the Dodgers for 6⅓ innings.

The Dodgers added an insurance run in the ninth on Austin Barnes‘ sacrifice fly. Then Joc Pederson broke it open with a three-run homer to right-center off Joe Musgrove, all but ensuring a return to Dodger Stadium for at least one more after Sunday’s Game 5.

Wood shook off any rust he might’ve had from recent inactivity and carried a no-hit bid two outs deep into the sixth inning. But the first batter of Wood’s third trip through the Houston batting order, George Springer crushed a no-doubt shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field.

Dodgers left fielder Enrique Hernandez didn’t even turn to look as the blast disappeared well beyond the fence, giving the Astros the game’s first run. That also was the end of Wood’s night after limiting Houston to one run and one hit over 5⅔ innings.

Wood’s performance should have been more than enough, but Morton stymied the Dodgers, limiting them to three hits. The first, Chris Taylor‘s single on the second pitch of the game, came at 7:21 p.m. CST. There were no other hits in the game by either side for 91 minutes, until a single by Hernandez in the sixth.

Hernandez’s hit pushed Barnes, who had been hit by a pitch, to third base. But Barnes was cut down at the plate when Houston’s wizard of a third baseman, Alex Bregman, charged Taylor’s chopper and threw him out.

Morton got Justin Turner on a grounder to start the seventh. At that point, the Dodgers were hitting .150 during the World Series and were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position.

However, the previously slumping Bellinger punched a double off the wall in left-center, a ball hit with enough authority to convince Houston manager A.J. Hinch to pull Morton after 76 pitches.

Before that, Bellinger had started the World Series 0-for-13, the second-longest such skid in Dodgers World Series history. Gil Hodges started 0-for-21 in 1952.

The Dodgers did not mourn Morton’s departure. Instead, Forsythe laced a single to center to score Bellinger and tie the score. That created a battle of bullpens, a contest that for most of the postseason has tended to work in L.A.’s favor.

The Dodgers needed Wood to deliver, and he did. Wood had pitched only once since Sept. 26 and not at all since Oct. 18. He was shaky with his changeup in the early going, forcing him to get by with his two-seamer and curveball.

Wood got stronger as the hitless innings piled up. It was the longest no-hit bid in franchise World Series history, surpassing an effort of 4⅔ innings by Sandy Koufax in 1963.

The L.A. bullpen was magnificent once again. Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson faced seven batters and retired them all, setting up Kenley Jansen to lock it down after Bellinger’s go-ahead heroics. Jansen surrendered a two-out, solo homer to Bregman, then got Jose Altuve to fly out for the final out.

All Wood needed was a little offensive help. A little is what he got. And it was enough. The Dodgers know they’ll be going home, but Game 6 will determine whether they are doing so to clinch, or to survive.

Sunday’s game is set up to be a classic. With both teams vying to move one game from a championship, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw will face Astros stalwart Dallas Keuchel.

Buckle up, folks. We’re four games in, but this year’s Fall Classic is just getting started.

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