By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) – The Houston Astros reached Major League Baseball’s World Series for the first time since 2005 after beating the New York Yankees 4-0 in Game Seven of the American League Championship Series on Saturday.
The Astros, who rallied from a 3-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series, will face the Dodgers when the World Series begins on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Astros starting pitcher Charlie Morton threw five shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out five.
Reliever Lance McCullers Jr. came on in the sixth and recorded his first career save after pitching four scoreless innings while giving up just one hit and striking out six.
The Astros scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth with the key hit coming off the bat of catcher Brian McCann, who lined a two-out double into the right field corner to score two and push the lead to 4-0.
Designated hitter Evan Gattis and second baseman Jose Altuve each contributed solo home runs in the ballgame.
Astros owner and chairman Jim Crane thanked the team’s fans for sticking with the club even while it continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, the deadly storm that ravaged the city in late August.
“Everybody has been pulling together and it is kind of a dream come true for this city to make it this far and have a chance to win the World Series,” he said.
The Yankees, who had won three straight in New York to force the Astros to play two elimination games, could not find their offense in Houston, scoring just one run in the final two games of the series at Minute Maid Park.
The Yankees came within inches of tying the game with the Astros leading 1-0 in the top of the fifth.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird raced home from third on an infield grounder but Astros third baseman Alex Bregman picked it up and made a gutsy throw to McCann at the plate for the out, which sent the orange-clad Astros fans into a frenzy.
Yankees All-Star slugger Aaron Judge came to the plate in the top of the eighth with a runner on and a chance to cut the Astros lead in half with a homer, but McCullers struck him out to end the inning and preserve the 4-0 lead.
“There are things we need to get better on and that will be a focus but I’m extremely proud of this group,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after the game.
The Astros last reached the World Series in 2005 when they were swept 4-0 by the Chicago White Sox.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Peter Rutherford/Amlan Chakraborty)