McCullers 1st to give up 5 home runs in World Series game

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Lance McCullers Jr. didn’t have to look — he had seen enough already.

Rhys Hoskins had just lined a slider into the left-field seats for the Philadelphia Phillies' fifth home run in five innings — five! — to punctuate one of the most calamitous starts in World Series history Tuesday night.

Only after hesitating did the 29-year-old Houston Astros right-hander turn for a peek. He really didn't have to.

Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh and Kyle Schwarber also went deep, 1,950 feet of long balls as the Phillies won 7-0 to take a 2-1 Series lead.

“I don’t really get hit around like that, so I was a little bit in disbelief,” McCullers said.

Five years after winning Game 3 of the Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, McCullers had a Charlie Brown-type outing, the first pitcher to allow five homers in any postseason game.

Was he tipping his pitches?

“Guys are always looking for something, always looking to see if they’re tipping their pitches,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We didn’t see anything.”

Speculation started soon after Harper hit a go-ahead, two-run drive in the first, sending a slider 402 feet into the right-center field seats. McCullers did a 360 and hopped off the mound, not even waiting for the ball to land.

Harper said something to Nick Castellanos and pointed a finger at his teammate's chest after crossing the plate.

“We could all see he was kind of iffy from the start,” Castellanos said.

Harper then yelled “Bohmer!” before a quick chat with Bohm, who was on deck.

“Anytime you have information, you want to be able to give that to your teammates at any point,” Harper said. “Throughout the whole season we’ve done that.”

Bohm led off the second with the 1,000th homer in Series history, driving a sinker 373 feet into the left-field stands.

Thirteen pitches later, Marsh sent a hanging slider soaring 358 feet and just over the right-center wall, where the ball dropped out of the glove of 10-year-old Ty Kuhner of Wilmington, Delaware, and bounced back onto the field. The home run call was upheld after a video review.

Schwarber led off the fifth with the most majestic of the homers, launching a hanging changeup 443 feet off the shrubbery behind the center-field fence. McCullers crouched, then turned and watched with a pained look as the ball landed.

Pitching coach Bill Murphy visited the mound. Five pitches later, Hoskins reached out for a slider and drove it 374 feet into the front of the left-field stands. McCullers was pulled with a seven-run deficit.

“I just thought we had a great approach," Harper said. "We talked about it before the game, just trying to get on him early, trying to get on him often. He’s really good. He’s a really good postseason pitcher as well, and that’s a really good team over there, so we had to jump on them early. We’ve got to keep it going for the next two days and do our job and hopefully end it here at home.”

McCullers missed all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery and didn't make his season debut this year until mid-August because of a strained right flexor tendon.

He had never before allowed more than three homers in a game. Now he had broken the record of homers allowed in a Series game: The Chicago Cubs' Charlie Root gave up two each to the Yankees' Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in 1932's Game 3; Cincinnati's Gene Thompson allowed four against the Yankees (including one by Joe DiMaggio) in 1939's Game 3; and St. Louis' Dick Hughes yielded four against Boston in 1967's Game 6.

“Nothing else I can do now than prepare for a Game 7," McCullers said. “I still believe if we get to that point I'm the best guy to take the ball, and I've just got to pitch better.”

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Ronald Blum, The Associated Press