Astros burst ahead, beat Phillies 5-2, tie World Series 1-1

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HOUSTON – Framber Valdez made a five-run lead stand up after Houston’s lightning first-inning burst, Alex Bregman homered and the Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-2 Saturday night to tie the World Series at one game apiece.

Just like in Game 1, the Astros rushed to a 5-0 lead. Unlike ace Justin Verlander in the opener, Valdez and Houston held on.

Valdez rebounded from a pair of poor outings in last year’s Series to pitch shutout ball into the seventh, and the bullpen survived a couple of jams to close things out.

Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez all doubled as Houston took a two-run lead four pitches in against Zack Wheeler. An error allowed another run in the first and Bregman added a two-run homer in the fifth.

A day after coming back for a 6-5 win in 10 innings. Philadelphia tried to rally in this one, too.

With the Phillies trailing by four runs, Kyle Schwarber hit a drive deep down the right-field line with a man on in the eighth against Rafael Montero that was originally ruled a two-run homer by right field line umpire James Hoye.

First base umpire Tripp Gibson at first signaled for umps to conference and the call was reversed on a crew chief review when it was determined the ball was just to the foul side of the pole.

Schwarber, who led the NL in home runs this season, then hit a long drive that was caught at the right field wall.

Ryan Pressly finished the combined six-hitter, giving up a run on an error by first baseman Yuli Gurriel.

Following the split in Houston, the Series resumes Monday night when Citizens Bank Park hosts the Series for the first time since 2009.

Of 61 previous Series tied 1-1, the Game 2 winner went on to the title 31 times – but just four of the last 14.

After struggling to a 19.29 ERA in a pair of Series starts in last year’s six-game loss to Atlanta, Valdez pitched with polish and poise. His cheeks glistening with sweat, the 28-year-old left-hander struck out nine and walked three, allowing four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

He blew by batters with a fastball averaging 95.6 mph and baffled them with his curve, which got three of his strikeouts- all looking. Unusually, he changed his glove and spikes mid-outing.

When the Phillies put two runners on for the only time against him in the sixth, Valdez struck out Game 1 star J.T. Realmuto with high heat, then got Bryce Harper to bounce a first-pitch sinker into an inning-ending double play.

Phillies select active duty Navy aviator in MLB Rule 5 draft

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SAN DIEGO — The Philadelphia Phillies took U.S. Navy aviator Noah Song in the Rule 5 draft Wednesday, hoping the former top pitching prospect can still be effective once he completes his military service.

There is no definitive date on when the 25-year-old Song might be able to join the Phillies.

Song was picked from the Boston Red Sox system in the draft for unprotected minor league players. Philadelphia put him on the military list while he continues his active duty and he won’t count on the 40-man roster, the pool from which major league teams can select players for the 26-man active roster.

Song impressed in his only pro season, making seven starts for Boston’s Class A Lowell affiliate in 2019, with a 1.06 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17 innings. With a fastball clocked in the upper 90s mph, the right-hander dominated that year as a senior at the U.S. Naval Academy, going 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 94 innings.

The Red Sox drafted Song in the fourth round – he likely would’ve gone much higher, but his impending military service caused teams to back off.

In November 2019, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed a memo clearing the way for athletes at the nation’s military academies to delay their service commitments and play pro sports after graduation. Song’s request to have those new rules retroactively applied to his case was denied.

Song began school as a flight officer in the summer of 2020 and finished that phase last April. He started additional aviation training in May.

Song was among the 15 players, including three Boston pitchers, taken in the big league phase of the Rule 5 draft, which wasn’t held last year because of the MLB lockout.

Washington took righty Thad Ward from Boston’s Triple-A roster with the first pick. Baltimore took Red Sox minor league pitcher Andrew Politi with the ninth choice and the Phillies chose Song with the 11th selection.

Teams pay $100,000 to take players in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft. The players must stay on the big league roster next season or go on waivers and, if unclaimed, be offered back to their original organization for $50,000.