BOSTON – (Special to Digital Sports Desk by The Sports Xchange) – The Houston Astros clinched their first trip to the American League Championship Series with a 5-4 victory against the Boston Red Sox in Game 4 of their AL Division Series on a rainy Monday afternoon at Fenway Park. Houston won the best-of-five series 3-1 after Boston temporarily staved off elimination with a 10-3 win in Game 3 on Sunday, assuring the Red Sox would not be swept in the ALDS in consecutive seasons.
Houston Astros celebrate ALDS victory at Boston
The Astros will face either the Cleveland Indians or the New York Yankees in the ALCS. Cleveland leads its ALDS series against New York 2-1 with Game 4 scheduled for Tuesday night.
Josh Reddick drove in the go-ahead run on a two-out single to left field in the eighth inning off Boston’s Craig Kimbrel, who relieved starter-turned-reliever Chris Sale (0-2) in the eighth after Houston tied it.
Evan Gattis reached second on a hard-hit bouncer down the third base line with one out in the inning off Sale, but was sent back to first because it was errantly picked up by a ball girl.
After Cameron Maybin entered as a pinch runner for Gattis, George Springer drew a walk off Kimbrel before Reddick’s big hit.
Pinch hitter Carlos Beltran doubled in a critical two-out insurance run in the ninth.
Rafael Devers cut the Astros’ deficit to one with an inside-the-park home run, his second of the playoffs, to lead off the Boston ninth against closer Ken Giles.
Giles proceeded to strike out Jackie Bradley Jr. and got Dustin Pedroia to ground out to complete the six-out save.
Alex Bregman clubbed a game-tying solo home run off Sale in the eighth, his second of the series, and Springer and Jose Altuve drove in one run apiece for Houston.
Andrew Benintendi hit a tying two-run homer in the fifth and Xander Bogaerts crushed his first career playoff homer, a solo shot in the first, for the Red Sox.
“It’s not easy to close these guys out,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “Hat tip to the guys across the way. They are not easy outs over there. We knew we were going to have to face their best pitching. You give the ball to Cris Sale and Craig Kimbrel with a lead.”
Astros Ken Giles on final out at Fenway
Game 1 starter and winner Justin Verlander (2-0) earned the victory after making his first career relief appearance, allowing one earned run on one hit — Benintendi’s homer — with two walks in 2 2/3 innings.
Astros starter Charlie Morton was chased after 4 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
Sale entered in relief of Red Sox starter and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, whose outing lasted just three innings after giving up two runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts.
Sale allowed two runs on four hits with six strikeouts over his 4 2/3 frames out of the bullpen.
Boston manager John Farrell was ejected in the second inning for arguing balls and strikes. Bench coach Gary DiSarcina assumed managerial duties in his absence.
Houston will make its first appearance in a Championship Series since beating the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in 2005 when the Astros played in the National League.
The Astros were then swept by the Chicago White Sox in their only trip to the World Series.
NOTES: Sustained rains had both teams making preparations for potential delays. “I think you can’t prepare enough,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “… I have my hands full preparing for the Red Sox. I don’t really want to compete with Mother Nature, too.” … Houston 2B Jose Altuve and Boston RF Mookie Betts were nominated for the 2017 Hank Aaron Awards, presented to the most outstanding offensive performer in each league. AL MVP candidate Altuve won the league’s batting title after hitting .346 with 24 home runs and 81 RBIs this season. “A great player who (had) an outstanding series (8-for-15, 3 HR, 5 RBIs),” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Altuve. Betts, the AL MVP runner-up in 2016, batted .264 with 24 home runs and 102 RBIs in 2017. … Twelve years ago Monday, Houston’s Chris Burke hit a series-ending, walk-off homer in the 18th inning to win the longest game in postseason history 7-6 in Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves