Almost before many in a crowd of 27,428 at Lamade Stadium had even found its seats, Las Vegas took a 3-0 lead against Houston. Three singles loaded the bases before Houston retired two hitters, but Drew Laspaluto lashed a double off the wall in center to clear the bases.
Chicago came right back on Hondras' line-drive homer to right after Pierce Jones' leadoff walk. Marquis Jackson then singled and raced all the way to third on a wild pitch before scoring on Darion Radcliff's hard single.
In the second, Hondras' single to left brought in Jaheim Benton, pinch running for Cameron Bufford, who had walked and moved up on a wild pitch by Las Vegas starter Brennan Holligan. Holligan had befuddled Chicago in the earlier meeting, but not this time.
After Stone ripped his line-drive homer for a 5-4 Las Vegas lead, Jackie Robinson West didn't buckle.
Holligan struck out the leadoff batter in the bottom half but walked the next two hitters and was replaced by Austin Kryszczuk, who had two hits for the West champs. Houston, next up, hit a foul pop to left that was dropped. Then, he tied it with a liner off the second baseman's glove.
"I thought I was going to be out," he said of the dropped popup. "But on the next pitch I tried to square it up and hit a gap."
With runners on the corners, Brandon Green's force-play grounder brought in the lead run. Then, Howard's in-between hop got under Kryszczuk's glove to make it 7-5.
Howard then shut the door in the sixth.
"We can play baseball for Chicago, too," he said with a grin.
Dong Wan Sin's three-run single helped South Korea defeat defending champion Japan 12-3 in the international championship earlier Saturday.
South Korea had a seven-run second inning on just two hits. Leadoff batter Hae Chan Choi also brought in two runs on a double during the inning. He finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs.
Thanks to three walks, along with a failed play at the plate, the South Koreans took a decisive lead.
"Scoring seven runs makes it easier," South Korea manager Jong Wook Park said.
Japan's first hit didn't come until the third inning. While the Japanese team scored once in the fourth and twice in the fifth inning, it was too little and late.
"We couldn't stop their momentum and we had an unlucky situation," Japan manager Junji Hidaka said.
South Korea will make its third trip to the championship game, after winning in 1984 and 1985. Park said his team isn't feeling any pressure.
"People back home just cheer for us," he said. "We'd like to win as much as possible, but just to be here is winning already."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.