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Amazing Astros

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Cristian Javier led Houston pitchers in an unprecedented World Series combined no-hitter as the Astros beat Philadelphia, 5-0, to level Major League Baseball’s championship showcase on Wednesday.

Javier threw six innings without surrendering a hit and relief pitchers Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly kept the door firmly closed as the Astros knotted the best-of-seven title series at two games apiece.

One day after the Phillies belted a World Series record-tying five home runs in a 7-0 Game 3 victory, Javier’s fastball flummoxed the host hitters.

The 25-year-old Dominican struck out nine and walked two in a dominant performance.

Abreu struck out all three he faced in the seventh inning and Montero retired the side in the eighth before Pressly worked around a one-out walk as he delivered the final three outs in the ninth.

The only other no-hitter in the 118-year history of the World Series was Don Larsen’s perfect game for the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956.

“That’s crazy, man,” Astros catcher Christian Vazquez said.

“We play for this and making it that special is even better.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker said Javier had delivered an “electric” performance from the mound.

“He threw the ball up, down, and that shows you that the best pitch in baseball is still the well-located fastball,” Baker said.

“He was calm, cool.”

“Man, it’s a strange series — they hit five home runs yesterday and then no hits today.”

The Houston hurlers were backed by a five-run outburst in the fifth that was keyed by Alex Bregman’s bases-loaded two-run double.

Chas McCormick led off the inning with a ground ball single off Phillies starter Aaron Nola.

Jose Altuve looped a single to left field and Jeremy Pena hit a sharp single to left off a breaking ball Nola hung over the plate to load the bases.

That spelled the end of Nola’s night, Jose Alvarado taking over on the mound with three on and none out.

He plunked Yordan Alvarez with his very first pitch and Houston had their first run of the night.

Bregman followed with a two-run double to right field. Kyle Tucker’s sacrifice fly to center scored Alvarez as Bregman advanced to third then scored on Yuli Gurriel’s single to left field.

Alvarado finally closed out the inning by striking out Vazquez and Aledmys Diaz.

Javier — who had struck out J.T. Realmuto, Bryce Harper and Nick Castellanos in order in the bottom of the fourth — followed up the Astros’ offensive surge by retiring the next six batters he faced.

Of his 97 pitches, Javier threw 70 fastballs, and Vazquez said it was a pitch that could always be counted upon.

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