LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The Houston Astros booked their third trip to the World Series in five seasons on Friday, defeating the Boston Red Sox, 5-0, to wrap up a 4-2 victory in the American League Championship Series.
The Astros, who will face either the Atlanta Braves or Los Angeles Dodgers in Major League Baseball’s showpiece, edged out a dogged Red Sox performance at Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Houston outfielder Kyle Tucker put the seal on a clinical win for the Astros, smashing a three-run home run in the eighth inning to effectively put the game out of Boston’s grasp.
Earlier, Cuban slugger Yordan Alvarez drove in the opening run for Houston in the bottom of the first inning, doubling on a fly ball to centerfield to score shortstop Alex Bregman.
A tense pitching duel then unfolded over the next four innings, with Boston starter Nathan Eovaldi digging in to prevent the Astros adding to their lead.
Astros rookie pitcher Luis Garcia was superb from the mound, giving up only one hit across 5.2 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts.
Houston finally added to their lead in the sixth inning when Tucker grounded into a double play at first base as Alvarez crossed home plate.
After a scoreless seventh inning, Tucker jumped on Boston reliever Adam Ottavino’s 95mph fastball, sending a rocket high into left center field to bring Alvarez and Carlos Correa home.
Houston closer Ryan Pressly then mopped up the Red Sox in the top of the ninth inning, quickly disposing of Enrique Hernandez, Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts as the Houston home crowd erupted.
The Astros won the World Series in 2017 against the Dodgers, but that victory was subsequently tarnished by revelations of a sign-stealing scandal which led to a $5 million fine and the sacking of then manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow.
Houston reached the 2019 World Series but suffered a 4-3 series defeat to the Washington Nationals.