WASHINGTON (AP) — Gerrit Cole and the Houston Astros went to Washington, hoping to snap out of their funk and bring the World Series back to Minute Maid Park.

Not only are they heading home with more games to play, now they’re just one win from another crown.

Handed the ball for what was supposed to be a high-stakes showdown against Max Scherzer, Cole gave Houston a firm grip on the Series by beating the Nationals 7-1 Sunday night for a 3-2 lead.

Cole looked exactly like the stud who dominated baseball most of this season, bouncing back from a Game 1 clunker to pitch the Astros to their third straight win.

Something was definitely missing for the Nationals. Namely, Scherzer.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner beat Cole in the opener, and was the Nats’ best hope to slow Houston. But then Scherzer was scratched only 3 1/2 hours before game time because of an irritated nerve near his neck, an injury that could finish him for the Series.

With the road team winning every time so far, Houston heads home with two chances to claim its second title in three years. Justin Verlander gets the first try when he starts against Stephen Strasburg in Game 6 on Tuesday night.

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