LOS ANGELES (AP) — Justin Verlander held the possibility of a lifetime in his big, right paw.
Totally in control, nursing a narrow lead, a most elusive World Series win getting closer and closer with each pitch.
And just like that, it was all gone.
In a result that's become way too familiar for the All-Star ace, Verlander let the chance slip away. The Los Angeles Dodgers rallied past Verlander and the Houston Astros 3-1 Tuesday night, forcing a Game 7.
Verlander had been unbeatable since being traded from Detroit to Houston on Aug. 31, winning nine straight decisions.
Then, at the worst time, a loss.
The defeat dropped Verlander to 0-4 with a 5.67 ERA in five World Series starts, having previously gone this far with the Tigers. Overall, he's 11-6 in the postseason — it's only these games in October, like this outing on Halloween night, that bedevil him.
Verlander didn't pitch badly. With fiancée Kate Upton watching in an Astros jacket with throwback rainbow colors, he came out blazing.
Mixing an occasional hook with his 97 mph heat, Verlander dominated for five innings, nicked for a mere single while striking out eight.
But in the sixth, with a 1-0 lead and the Astros getting nearer to a first Series championship in their 56 seasons, thing got away from Verlander.
Eighth-place batter Austin Barnes singled and hardnosed veteran Chase Utley stood fairly still while a bounced pitch hit him.
Astros manager A.J. Hinch came out, but there was no doubt this was Verlander's game — this was the moment they got him for.
Chris Taylor was up to the challenge, too. He looped a soft RBI double down the right-field line that tied it. Corey Seager followed with a long sacrifice fly, and just like that, the Astros' edge was gone.
Verlander left after the sixth, having allowed only three hits. He stoically walked off the mound, his night done.
Verlander pitched well in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium, when Los Angeles came back from a 1-0 deficit. The Astros eventually won in the 11th, spurred by Verlander hollering encouragement at them in the dugout in the late innings.
On this cool night in LA, no one could save Verlander or his teammates.