Yordan homer powers Astros

NEW YORK (AFP) — Yordan Alvarez smashed a three-run home run with two outs in the ninth inning to give the Houston Astros an 8-7 fightback victory over Seattle in the Major League Baseball playoffs.

The dramatic game-winning blast came after the visiting Mariners had seized a four-run lead through seven innings and the Astros were down to their last strike in the ninth.

“Very happy. This moment means a lot to me,” the Cuban-born slugger said through a translator.

“It feels great to hit this homer. Very special.”

Houston seized a 1-0 lead over Seattle in the best-of-five American League division series, which continues Thursday.

In the other American League Division Series opener, Anthony Rizzo and Harrison Bader smacked homers to power the host New York Yankees over the Cleveland Guardians, 4-1.

In the National League Division Series openers, Nick Castellanos drove in three runs and made a key catch late as visiting Philadelphia edged reigning World Series champion Atlanta, 7-6, while the Los Angeles Dodgers beat visiting San Diego, 5-3.

In Houston, solo homers by Eugenio Suarez and J.P. Crawford helped Seattle take a 7-3 lead.

Alex Bregman belted a two-run homer in the eighth to lift the Astros within 7-5, and Houston’s rally began in the ninth when Mariners reliever Paul Sewald hit David Hensley with a one-out pitch.

Sewald struck out Jose Altuve, but Jeremy Pena — down to his last strike — singled up the middle to bring Alvarez to the plate.

Seattle left-handed starting pitcher Robbie Ray, last year’s Cy Young Award winner as best AL pitcher, then entered.

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