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Phillies, Astros near World Series

NEW YORK (AFP) — The Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros advanced within a victory of the World Series thanks to Major League Baseball playoff triumphs on Saturday in vastly different fashions.

Rhys Hoskins smashed two home runs as Philadelphia outslugged visiting San Diego 10-6 while Houston pitchers allowed the host New York Yankees only one hit over eight innings in a 5-0 shutout.

The Phillies seized a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven National League Championship Series against the Padres, while Houston took a 3-0 edge over the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

The Astros can complete a sweep on Sunday in New York to reach the World Series for the fourth time in six seasons, while the Phillies — in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 — can reach the World Series for the first time since 2009 with a Sunday home triumph.

“It was a big win for us,” Houston’s Cristian Vazquez said. “Every night we have a big chance to win. We have big pieces on the team and we’re in a good place now. It’s a special team.”

J.T. Realmuto and Kyle Schwarber added solo homers to Hoskins’ pair of two-run Hoskins homers as Philadelphia rallied after trailing 4-0, matching their greatest playoff comeback victory ever.

“Just persistent at-bats,” Realmuto said.

“As soon as we got down 4-0 we got back in the dugout and we just kind of regrouped as a team and said, ‘There’s a lot of ballgame left. We’re going to score runs today.”

“We just never lost that confidence,” he added.

The Astros, in the ALCS for a record sixth consecutive season, won the title in 2017 but lost in 2019 and last year.

Chas McCormick smacked a home run and Christian Vazquez drove in two runs for Houston while 25-year-old Dominican right-hander Cristian Javier, making his first start in three weeks, hurled 5 1/3 shutout innings, striking out five while allowing only one hit, and five relievers completed a three-hit shutout.

“He’s got one of the best fastballs and sliders in the game,” catcher Vazquez said of Javier. “So attacking hitters, that’s the key for him, and getting ahead.”

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