HOUSTON -- Juan Soto felt no pressure Tuesday during his -- and the Washington Nationals' -- World Series debut.
The Washington left fielder posted a three-hit, three-RBI game as the Nationals claimed a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the Fall Classic.
Soto drilled an opposite-field, game-tying home run leading off the fourth inning. He delivered a two-run double, also to the opposite field, an inning later to cap the Nationals' three-run uprising off Astros ace Gerrit Cole, who took his first loss since May 22.
At 20 years, 362 days old, Soto became the fourth-youngest player to homer in a World Series game, trailing only Andruw Jones (19 years, 180 days in 1996), Miguel Cabrera (20 years, 187 days in 2003) and Mickey Mantle (20 years, 352 days in 1952).
"I've been working on that since my first day in the big leagues," Soto said of performing in the spotlight. "Sometimes I just put gum in my mouth, but most of the time just take a deep breath and focus. It's just the pitcher and me. Everybody around, I forget about everybody around. It's just you and me, and you try to (get) me out, and that's how everything comes down, and try to enjoy it."
Soto pulled the Nationals even at 2-all with his 417-foot, fourth-inning blast onto the train tracks above left-center field. Cole, 19-0 with a 1.59 ERA over his previous 25 starts, had already surrendered a solo homer to Ryan Zimmerman with two outs in the second inning.
Two batters after Adam Eaton gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead with his RBI single to right in the fifth, Soto lined a 3-2 slider from Cole off the scoreboard in left to plate Victor Robles and Anthony Rendon, with Rendon scoring from first after the ball caromed past Michael Brantley.
Cole (0-1 in the series) allowed five runs on eight hits and one walk with six strikeouts over seven innings. The Astros last lost a game started by Cole on July 12 at Texas.
"I think he's been so good for so long that there builds this thought of invincibility and that it's impossible to beat him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Cole. "So when it happens it is a surprise to all of us because we've watched for months this guy completely dominate the opposition."
Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer (1-0 in series) responded to the three-run fifth by retiring the Astros in order for the first time in the bottom of that frame.
He allowed a two-run, two-out, two-strike double to Yuli Gurriel in the first inning after holding batters to an 0-for-17 mark with runners in scoring position this postseason, but Scherzer limited the Astros to just those two runs on five hits and three walks in five innings.
Despite laboring, Scherzer proved elusive over his final four innings, finishing with seven strikeouts in his 112-pitch outing.
"For him to keep us in that ballgame was huge," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. "And going out there and finishing that fifth inning was huge."
Houston was left lamenting blown opportunities. The Astros were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 baserunners. George Springer homered leading off the seventh, his record fifth consecutive World Series game with a home run, before adding an RBI double that cut the deficit to one run with one out in the eighth.
Washington right-hander Daniel Hudson retired the next batter, Jose Altuve, on a line drive to right. Nationals left-hander Sean Doolittle then entered and retired Brantley to strand Springer at second before Doolittle retired the side in order in the ninth to save the Nationals' seventh consecutive postseason win.
"These are the most elite guys in the world, and they're not trying to give up runs," Springer said. "It's hard to face these guys. We just have to string together at-bats and see what happens."
The Nationals will look to sweep the first two games at Minute Maid Park when Stephen Strasburg takes the mound opposite Justin Verlander in Game 2 on Wednesday. Games 3 and 4 and, if necessary, Game 5 will be played in Washington.