In Brief: Astros advance to World Series — again

In Brief: Astros advance to World Series — again

Updated: 3 months, 14 days, 12 hours, 7 minutes, 18 seconds ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman delivered big hits and the Houston Astros advanced to the World Series again, finishing a four-game sweep of New York in the AL Championship Series with a 6-5 victory aided by another defensive gaffe from the Yankees.

Taking advantage of a costly error by second baseman Gleyber Torres to produce the go-ahead rally in the seventh inning, the Astros won their second consecutive pennant and fourth in six years.

Rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena hit a three-run homer off ailing Yankees starter Nestor Cortes to help the AL West champions overcome an early 3-0 deficit. Pena was picked as the ALCS MVP.

Houston opens the World Series at home Friday night against Bryce Harper and the wild-card Philadelphia Phillies, who beat San Diego to close out the best-of-seven NLCS in five games.

It was the first time both pennants were decided on the same day since 1992.

HARPER, PHILLIES ELIMINATE SAN DIEGO

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Bryce Harper slugged his fifth homer of the postseason, a two-run blast in the eighth inning that turned Citizens Bank Park into a madhouse, and the $330 million slugger powered the Philadelphia Phillies past the San Diego Padres 4-3 and into the World Series for the first the time since 2009.

Rhys Hoskins also hit a two-run homer in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series to spark Philadelphia’s improbable run to the pennant and a shot at its first World Series championship since 2008.

Harper has made the monumental feat of hitting a baseball look so easy in the postseason and he delivered with easily the defining moment in his four-year Phillies’ career.

Philadelphia trailed 3-2 when J.T. Realmuto began the eighth with a single off reliever Robert Suarez. Harper then lined a 2-2, 98 mph sinker the opposite way, into the left field seats as another sellout crowd of 45,485 shook the stadium.

Harper’s hitting earned him the NLCS MVP award.

U-M REMAINS AT NO. 4 IN AP POLL

NEW YORK (AP) — LSU re-entered The Associated Press College Football poll at No. 18 on Sunday and No. 25 South Carolina earned a ranking for the first time in four seasons.

The first six teams in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank held their spots after either winning and not playing this past weekend.

Georgia is No. 1 for the third straight week, with No. 2 Ohio State gaining ground after it blew out Iowa.

The Bulldogs, who were idle, received 31 first-place votes and 1,530 points, and the Buckeyes got 18 first-place votes and 1,513 points.

No. 3 Tennessee received 13 first-place votes. No. 4 Michigan, No. 5 Clemson and No. 6 Alabama also held their spots, with the Tigers receiving a first-place vote.

No. 7 TCU moved up a spot after remaining unbeaten with a second-half comeback against Kansas State. Oregon jumped two spots to a season-high No. 8 after routing UCLA. Oklahoma State is No. 9, followed by Southern California and Wake Forest in a tie at No. 10.

LARSON RETURNS TO WINNER’S CIRCLE

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Kyle Larson found his way into NASCAR’s headlines for a second consecutive week. This time, for a much more pleasant reason.

Larson held off Ross Chastain to cap a dominant showing in the second-to-last race of the NASCAR season at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, after leading 199 of the 267 laps over the 1-1/2 mile course. It was Larson’s third win of the season and came a week after the reigning Cup champion — who was eliminated earlier in this year’s playoffs — was intentionally spun by Bubba Wallace in an act of retaliation at Las Vegas.

On Sunday, the suspended Wallace was watching. Larson, meanwhile, was winning. AJ Allmendinger was third and Austin Dillon fourth, as Chevrolets took the top four spots.

SUNS GUARD PAUL REACHES MILESTONE

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Devin Booker scored 35 points, Chris Paul became the third player in NBA history to reach 11,000 assists, and the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-95 on Sunday night.

Marcus Morris scored 22 points, John Wall added 17 points and Paul George had 16 points in the Clippers’ home opener after winning their first two games on the road. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes in his second game of the season.

Paul assisted on the Suns’ first basket of the game, a 3-pointer by Booker. Paul followed with an alley-oop pass to Deandre Ayton, who dunked, to give him 11,000 assists. Paul joined John Stockton (15,806) and Jason Kidd (12,091) as the only players in NBA history to reach that mark.

Paul also became the first player in the league with 20,000 points and 11,000 assists.

MCILROY RALLIES, HOLDS OFF KITAYAMA

RIDGELAND, S.C. (AP) — Rory McIlroy capped off his steady march back to No. 1 in the world on Sunday with an explosive burst of three birdies late in the round to hold off Kurt Kitayama and win the CJ Cup in South Carolina.

Tied with Kitayama with five holes to go at Congaree, McIlroy ran off three straight birdies to seize control and finished with two bogeys, hardly enough to ruin the moment. He closed with a 4-under 67 for a one-shot victory. McIlroy, who finished at 17-under 267, won for the 23rd time on the PGA Tour and 31st time worldwide.

It was his ninth time reaching No. 1 in the world, behind only Tiger Woods and Greg Norman (both 11) in getting to the top of the ranking the most times.

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