Houston Astros one win away from World Series title

By Mark MitchenerBBC Sport
Yordan Alvarez
Yordan Alvarez returned to the Astros' line-up in game five

The Houston Astros are one win away from a second World Series title in three years after beating the Washington Nationals 7-1 in game five.

Yordan Alvarez, Carlos Correa and George Springer all hit two-run home runs in Washington as Houston took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Juan Soto's seventh-inning homer was the only run given up by Astros starter Gerrit Cole, who struck out nine men.

The series now returns to Houston on Tuesday evening (midnight GMT).

Sunday's result continued a remarkable sequence, with the visiting team winning each of the first five games - only the third time it has happened in the 'Fall Classic'.

The Nationals were dealt a huge blow before the game as starting pitcher Max Scherzer was ruled out after suffering back and neck spasms, with Joe Ross his late stand-in.

US President Donald Trump was among the spectators at Nationals Park and was booed by some in the crowd when he was shown on the big screen.

The team from the capital soon went behind thanks to Alvarez's homer in the second inning. The rookie is normally the Astros' designated hitter (DH), but with this game being played in a National League ballpark with no DH, Alvarez vindicated manager AJ Hinch's decision to start him in left field with three hits from three at-bats.

Correa's blast in the fourth meant Houston could comfortably ride the "Cole Train" to victory, with Soto's home run the only major blemish in seven innings thrown by right-hander Cole - who is set for a lucrative move when he qualifies for free agency this winter, following an exceptional season.

Yuli Gurriel restored Houston's four-run lead by driving in Springer in the eighth inning, before Springer's homer in the ninth erased any remaining nerves.

Stephen Strasburg will be the starting pitcher for Washington in game six as they look to avoid defeat, while Justin Verlander will be on the mound for the Astros at Minute Maid Park.


Seth Bennett, BBC World News in Washington

It was a weekend to remember for the Houston Astros as everything seemed to go their way. Every move AJ Hinch made was rewarded.

For Washington, it was a home stand to forget. They didn't do the little things that have brought them so much success over the season. In 27 innings, they managed just three runs - a stat that must improve if they are to win the World Series.

The Nationals return to Texas hoping to repeat their success of game two, as star pitcher Stephen Strasburg once again faces Astros ace Justin Verlander. It is a brilliant match-up of two of the sport's greats, and now has the added spice of the World Series being on the line.

Game six on Tuesday could be the best of the series. Victory for Houston and they are champions, and a win for Washington will mean winner takes all in game seven.

US President Donald Trump watched on
US President Donald Trump watched on but was booed by parts of the crowd


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