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SAN DIEGO — George Springer and José Altuve delivered big hits, Framber Valdéz pitched six brilliant innings and the Houston Astros beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the third straight time, 7-4 Friday to force a deciding Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Houston chased starter Blake Snell in the fifth before Springer hit a go-ahead, two-run single and scored on Altuve’s double. Carlos Correa, who hit a walkoff home run in Thursday night’s 4-3 win, added an RBI single.

The Astros are one win away from their third World Series in four seasons and joining the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only teams to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series. The Red Sox stunned the New York Yankees to win the ALCS before winning their first World Series in 86 seasons.

Otherwise, big league clubs leading 3-0 in a best-of-seven postseason series are 37-1.

Houston also is trying to become the first team to win a pennant with a losing regular season record (29-31). The Astros have been criticized for their role in a cheating scandal en route to the 2017 title that was uncovered last offseason.

“We’re not through writing history,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re hoping we can have a happy ending to this historic season and historic year.”

“This team’s battled back big time,” he added. “You’ve got to love this team, or some people hate this team, but I mean you’ve at least got to respect this team, the way that they’ve worked “

Manuel Margot homered twice and drove in three runs for the Rays. Despite blowing a 3-0 series lead, they remain one win away from the second World Series in franchise history — and one loss from joining the 2004 Yankees in ignominy.

Game 7 on Saturday night will feature the pitchers who started and finished Houston’s Game 7 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2017 World Series. Lance McCullers Jr. will go for the Astros while 36-year-old Charlie Morton is expected to start for the Rays. Read More

By Ian Dei

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