Nationals beat Astros to force game-seven World Series showdown

Houston (AFP) –


Stephen Strasburg baffled Houston's batters as the Washington Nationals routed the Astros 7-2 Tuesday, forcing a one-game winner-take all showdown for the 115th World Series championship.

Washington pulled level at 3-3 in Major League Baseball's best-of-seven final, setting up a decider in Houston Wednesday.

Strasburg allowed two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out seven Houston batters, improving to 5-0 in the playoffs after an 18-6 season, the 31-year-old right-hander having also won game two in Houston last week.

Washington's Juan Soto and Adam Eaton blasted solo home runs in the fifth inning and Anthony Rendon drove in five runs, including a key two-run homer in the seventh.

That was enough run production for the Nationals thanks to Strasburg mystifying the Houston hitters who had produced 19 runs over the prior three games.

And it came on a night when Nationals manager Dave Martinez became the first World Series ejection since 1996, needing to be restrained as he angrily confronted umpires after a controversial seventh-inning call.

The Nationals, who improved to 4-0 in playoff elimination games this month, will start three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer in game seven after neck spasms kept him out of game five. Fellow right-hander Zack Greinke will start for Houston.

In the first World Series where road teams have won the first six games, the Astros will try for their second title in three seasons while the Nationals seek the first crown in their franchise's 50-year history.

It would also be the first World Series title for Washington since 1924.