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Afp

Yankees rally late to stun Astros, level MLB playoff series

By AFP
media Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees hits a double during the eighth inning against the Houston Astros in Game Four of the American League Championship Series, at Yankee Stadium in New York, on October 17, 2017 GETTY/AFP

Aaron Judge smashed a home run and Gary Sanchez smacked a two-run double on Tuesday as the New York Yankees rallied past Houston 6-4 to level their Major League Baseball playoff series.

Judge added a run-scoring double in a four-run eighth inning while Sanchez also plated a run with a sacrifice fly out as the Yankees matched the Astros at 2-2 in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series that continues Wednesday in New York.

"We've been fighting back like this in a lot of games this season," Judge said. "We're never out of a game with the type of offense we have.

"I've got a lot of faith in this team. We've been battling through a lot this year and we're going to keep fighting."

Either the Astros or Yankees will face the National League champion, the Los Angeles Dodgers or defending champion Chicago Cubs, in the World Series starting next Tuesday.

Not since 2003 had the Yankees overcome a four-run deficit to win a home playoff game, but that's exactly what they did after trailing 4-0 midway into the seventh inning.

Judge answered for the Yankees in the seventh with a solo homer and Chris Devenski took the mound for Houston, only to surrender a triple to Didi Gregorius, who scored on Sanchez's sacrifice fly to pull the Yankees within 4-2 after seven.

Todd Frazier and Chase Headley singled to open the Yankees eighth inning. Brett Gardner grounded out to second base to score Frazier and advance Headley, setting up a run-scoring double off the left-field wall by Judge to pull the Yankees level.

"I put a good swing on a good slider there and got the job done," Judge said. "We just kept trying to have quality at bats. Once we're within striking distance like that, anything can happen."

Judge took third on a Gregorius single and Sanchez blasted a double to right field that scored both runners and gave the Yankees their final victory margin.

- 'Team effort' -

"Everybody knew what we were capable of doing these last innings," Frazier said. "We exploded there in the bottom of the eighth. Team effort today."

New York closing relief ace Aroldis Chapman took the mound in the ninth and the Cuban retired the last three Astros batters to complete the comeback triumph.

Houston right-handed pitcher Lance McCullers and Yankees right-handed starting pitcher Sonny Gray each opened with five scoreless innings, baffling opposing batters while surrendering only one hit each.

The Astros struck in the sixth as George Springer walked and Josh Reddick reached base on a catcher's interference call against New York's Austin Romine, the first such call in AL championship history.

Yankees relief pitcher David Robertson was inserted for Gray and promptly walked Jose Altuve to load the bases.

Yuli Gurriel, a 33-year-old rookie who defected from Cuba last year, followed with a three-run double down the left-field line to put the Astros on top.

Houston made it 4-0 in the seventh when Marwin Gonzalez doubled and scored on a fielding error by Yankees second baseman Starlin Castro.

 
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