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Astros force ALCS Game 7

Justin Verlander remained perfect with the Houston Astros, pitching seven shutout innings when they needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs during a 7-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Friday night that extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine of his outings for the Astros. And with his new club facing playoff elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, the ace right-hander delivered again.

After striking out 13 for a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since agreeing to a trade from Detroit that was completed only seconds before the midnight deadline for post-season eligibility.

For the Astros, it was Just-in time.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers. CC Sabathia is scheduled to start for New York against Charlie Morton in a rematch of Game 3, won 8-1 by Sabathia and the Yankees.

The home team has won every game in the series.

George Springer helped Verlander out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the centre-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and the Astros up 3-0.

Brian McCann's RBI ground-rule double in the fifth ended an 0-for-20 slump before Altuve snapped an 0-for-12 skid with a two-run single later in the inning. Altuve hit his fourth homer of the post-season when he connected on a solo shot off David Robertson with no outs in the eighth.

Houston improved to 5-0 at home this post-season after dropping three straight in New York as the Astros chase their second trip to the World Series. Saturday will be just their second Game 7 in franchise history after losing the final game of the 2004 NLCS at St. Louis 5-2.

The Yankees will have to hope that their elimination-game magic continues on Saturday when they look to improve to 5-0 this post-season in such games and advance to the World Series for the first time since 2009.



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