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Baseball: Astros down Yankees, set World Series clash with Dodgers

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - 

The Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees 4-0 on Saturday to book a Major League Baseball World Series showdown with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After fending off elimination in game six on Friday, the Astros won the best-of-seven American League Championship Series four-games-to-three to reach the World Series for the second time in club history.

Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve homered for the Astros, who had won the first two games of the series at home before dropping three straight in New York.

Charlie Morton pitched five strong innings for the Astros, who were swept by the Chicago White Sox in their only prior World Series appearance, back in 2005 when they played in the National League.

Gattis opened the scoring with a solo homer off Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the fourth inning.

Altuve's homer in the bottom of the fifth sparked a three-run frame against Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle, who also surrendered a two-run double to Astros catcher -- and former Yankee -- Brian McCann.

Relief pitcher Lance McCullers pitched the final four innings and kept the Yankees at bay to seal the victory.

Morton gave up only two hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

After taking the loss in game three in New York, Morton attacked the strike zone early, needing only 28 pitches over the first three innings. That included 22 strikes.

He retired the side in order in the top of the fourth.

But after Gattis' homer in the bottom of the fourth, Morton needed some help preserving the one-run margin in the top of the fifth -- when the Yankees' Greg Bird led off with a double.

Bird reached third on a wild pitch walk to Aaron Hicks. He tried to score on Todd Frazier's ground ball to third, but Astros third baseman Alex Bregman charged to collect the ball and delivered a spot-on throw to McCann, who made the tag to retire Bird.

Sabathia, who pitched six scoreless innings in the Yankees' game-three triumph, stranded five base runners over the first three innings and didn't make it out of the fourth.

© 2017 AFP