Astros hammer Yankees 8-3 in ALCS Game 4, take 3-1 series lead

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A pair of three-run home runs from George Springer and Carlos Correa paced the Astros as they defeated the Yankees 8-3 in Game 4 of the ALCS to take a 3-1 series lead. The Astros are one win away from reaching the World Series for the second time in three years.

Zack Greinke got the start for the ‘stros and immediately found himself in hot water. The right-hander issued three walks in the bottom of the first inning, the last of which came with the bases loaded and forced in a run to give the Yankees an early 1-0 lead.

The lead wouldn’t last long as George Springer followed a Robinson Chirinos walk and a Josh Reddick single with a three-run home run to left field off of Masahiro Tanaka, putting the Astros on top 3-1.

Greinke got the first out of the fifth inning, but allowed a single to DJ LeMahieu, then walked Aaron Judge, ending his night. Ryan Pressly came in to put out the fire. He walked Aaron Hicks to load the bases, but rebounded with back-to-back strikeouts of Gleyber Torres and Edwin Encarnación to escape the inning. Greinke ended his night allowing the one run on three hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

Alex Bregman led off the sixth inning reaching on a fielding error by LeMahieu, which ended Tanaka’s night. Chad Green entered in relief, allowing a one-out single to Yordan Álvarez before serving up a three-run dinger to Correa. Tanaka’s final line: four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks with nine strikeouts across five-plus innings.

Gary Sánchez helped the Yankees claw back a bit with a two-run home run off of Josh James in the bottom half of the sixth to make it 6-3. But the Astros’ bullpen would hold the fort from there.

Will Harris took over in the seventh. He threw 13 pitches, striking out Hicks and Torres before getting Encarnación to ground out for a 1-2-3 inning. The Astros continued to mount offensive pressure in the top of the eighth, this time against Adam Ottavino. Bregman led off with a double, then Gurriel reached on a LeMahieu fielding error that put runners on the corners with no outs. Manager Aaron Boone decided to bring in lefty CC Sabathia to face Álvarez. Álvarez followed up with a grounder right to Torres but he bobbled the ball, allowing a run to score, Gurriel to advance to second, and Álvarez to reach safely. Sabathia would end up exiting the game with an apparent shoulder injury, likely making the final appearance of his major league career. Jonathan Loaisiga entered the game and ended the inning without any further damage.

Astros skipper A.J. Hinch handed the ball to Joe Smith for the eighth inning. He struck out Brett Gardner and Sánchez for two quick outs. Gio Urshela reached on a fielding error by Bregman to whisper the idea of a rally into the inning. Hinch, however, decided to squelch that idea by bringing in closer Roberto Osuna for a four-out save opportunity. He closed the book on the eighth by getting Didi Gregorius to foul out to the left side.

The Astros tacked on another run in the top of the ninth thanks to yet more poor defense on the Yankees’ part. Altuve led off, grounding a ball to Torres but the ball skipped under his glove, allowing Altuve to safely reach second base. Loaisiga uncorked a wild pitch to move Altuve to third. Then Michael Brantley singled to right field to plate Altuve, making it 8-3. Facing Bregman, Loaisiga uncorked yet another wild pitch to allow Brantley to move up to second base before ending the at-bat in a walk. Thanks to lefty Tyler Lyons, that was the end of the Astros’ offensive front.

Osuna returned to the mound in the ninth looking for the save. LeMahieu flied out to right abd Judge grounded out. After walking Hicks, Osuna closed the door by getting Torres to fly out to right field. Fin. Astros win 8-3, take a 3-1 series lead.

The Yankees will look to avoid elimination in Game 5 of the ALCS on Friday night at home. James Paxton will oppose Justin Verlander. If the Astros win, they will match up with the Nationals in the World Series.

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.