BASEBALL

PHILADELPHIA (AP)Justin Verlander overcame an early jolt to grit out the World Series win that long eluded him, rookie Jeremy Pena hit a go-ahead home run and the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 to head home with a 3-2 series lead.

Buoyed by late defensive gems from Trey Mancini and Chas McCormick, the Astros moved to the brink of their second championship – the other was a scandal-tainted title in 2017. They can close it out Saturday night at Minute Maid Park.

Houston went ahead just four pitches in against Noah Syndergaard on Pena’s run-scoring single. Then Philly’s Kyle Schwarber homered leading off the bottom half.

Pena had three hits, including an eighth-inning single that set up Yordan Alvarez’s run-scoring groundout. He made a leaping catch at shortstop to foil the Phillies in the third, then regained the lead an inning later with his fourth postseason homer. He’s the first rookie shortstop ever to go deep in the Fall Classic.

After Jean Segura’s one-out RBI single off Rafael Montero in the eighth, Ryan Pressly escaped a first-and-third jam by striking out Brandon Marsh and Schwarber on a nearly 100 mph one-hopper that was snagged over first base by Mancini. McCormick helped Pressly finish a five-out save, running 91 feet in center field to made a leaping backhand catch against the chain-link fence in front of the right-center scoreboard on J.T. Realmuto for the second out of the ninth.

NFL

HOUSTON (AP) – Jalen Hurts threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns, and the Philadelphia Eagles overcame a slow start to beat the Houston Texans 29-17 for the first 8-0 start in franchise history.

Hurts lost a fumble in a forgettable first half and game was tied at halftime.

But C.J. Gardner-Johnson grabbed his NFL-best and career-high fifth interception before Hurts threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Brown to give the Eagles the lead in the third quarter.

Houston (1-6-1) added a field goal after that but another scoring toss by Hurts and his 2-point conversion run extended the lead to 29-17 early in the fourth.

The Texans were driving late in the fourth when Davis Mills was intercepted again, this time by James Bradberry and the Eagles ran out the clock to secure the victory.

NBA

NEW YORK (AP) – The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay, dismayed by his repeated failure to ”unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.”

Hours after Irving refused to issue the apology that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sought for posting a link to an antisemitic work on his Twitter feed, the Nets said that Irving is ”currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

Irving did finally apologize later in an Instagram post for not explaining the specific beliefs he agreed and disagreed with when he posted the documentary.

His reluctance to do so earlier Thursday came hours before the FBI said it had received credible information about a ”broad” threat to synagogues in New Jersey, Irving’s home state.

The Nets said they made multiple attempts in recent days to help Irving understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, but it was clear during the point guard’s interview after practice earlier Thursday that little had changed.

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Jalen Suggs scored nine of his 26 points in the final two minutes, and the Orlando Magic rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half to beat the Golden State Warriors 130-129, handing the defending NBA champions their fourth straight loss.

Stephen Curry had 39 points and nine assists for the Warriors. Klay Thompson added 27 points, but missed a 12-foot jumper at the buzzer after the Magic trapped Curry.

The Warriors fell to 0-5 on the road and 3-6 overall.

NHL

DETROIT (AP) – Alex Ovechkin tied Gordie Howe for the most goals scored for one NHL team. but Andrew Copp had a go-ahead goal with 3:50 left to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Washington Capitals 3-1.

Ovechkin broke a scoreless tie midway through the second period, giving him 786 goals with Washington to equal Howe’s total with the Red Wings.

Howe played for the Red Wings from 1946 to 1971, and Ovechkin’s milestone goal was scored on the same end of the rink that the Hall of Famer’s retired No. 9 jersey hangs in the rafters.

Howe, known as Mr. Hockey, retired with an NHL record 801 goals – mostly scored with the Red Wings – and Wayne Gretzky broke the mark, finishing with a league-record 894 goals. Howe died in 2016 at age of 88.

TENNIS

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – Top-ranked Iga Swiatek took control with an eight-point run that launched a match-ending stretch in which she grabbed nine of 11 games for a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Caroline Garcia in round-robin action at the WTA Finals.

Swiatek improved to 2-0 this week at the season-closing tournament for the top eight women in tennis. She’s won all four sets she’s played so far while dropping a total of just 10 games.

Fourth-ranked Coco Gauff was eliminated with a 7-6 (6), 6-3 round-robin loss to Daria Kasatkina that ended the 18-year-old American’s hopes of reaching the semifinals. Gauff fell to 0-4 in her debut at the season-ending tournament for the best in women’s tennis – 0-2 in singles and 0-2 in doubles with Jessica Pegula. The Floridian was the youngest participant in both events at the WTA Finals since Anna Kournikova in 1999.

BRITTNEY GRINER

WASHINGTON (AP) – Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow visited jailed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday, more than a week after a Russian court rejected her appeal of her nine-year sentence for drug possession.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a tweet that the American representatives ”saw firsthand her tenacity and perseverance despite her present circumstances.”

Price said the Biden administration is continuing to press for the immediate release of Griner and Paul Whelan, who was sentenced in 2020 to 16 years in prison in Russia on espionage-related charges that he and his family say are bogus, and ”fair treatment for every detained American.”

Griner was was convicted in August after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. Her arrest in February came at a time of heightened tensions between Moscow and Washington, just days before Russia sent troops into Ukraine. At that time, Griner was returning to play for a Russian team during the WNBA’s offseason.