Friday Sports in Brief

October 17

BASEBALL

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.

ARLINGTON, Texas — Dodgers catcher Will Smith hit a go-ahead, three-run homer off the Atlanta reliever with the same name, Corey Seager homered twice and Los Angeles avoided elimination with a 7-3 win over the Braves in Game 5 of the NL Championship Series on Friday night.

Smith connected in the sixth against — of all people — Will Smith, the fourth of six Braves pitchers in their bullpen night that started with a couple of postseason firsts by A.J. Minter.

Betts got that decisive sixth started with an infield single, and the first-year Dodger and former AL MVP had a running, shoestring catch in right field that turned into an inning-ending double play. His snag took an Atlanta run off the board after a replay challenge right before Seager’s first homer.

NFL

From New England to Atlanta to Indianapolis, the focus was not on football on Friday. It was on, not surprisingly, coronavirus tests.

The Patriots canceled practice Friday and later placed center James Ferentz on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He became the fifth player on the team to test positive for the virus.

With the Colts, there were four positive tests that, when retested, came up negative. The Falcons returned to their facility one day after abandoning it when they had a second positive.

New England (2-2) already twice had the original Week 5 matchup against Denver postponed following four earlier positive coronavirus tests by players, including quarterback Cam Newton and cornerback Stephon Gilmore. The game is scheduled for Sunday in Foxborough, Massachusetts, but now could be in jeopardy.

Newton and Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, returned to practice this week for the first time since testing positive for the virus. Newton missed New England’s loss at Kansas City on Oct. 5 after his Oct. 2 positive test. He was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Gilmore, who tested positive on Oct. 7, was activated from the list Thursday. Practice squad player Bill Murray also returned from the COVID-19 list Thursday.

OBIT

PHILADELPHIA — The go-to guy at courtside, on the field and in the press box who covered Philadelphia sports from the days of Wilt Chamberlain to Bryce Harper for The Associated Press and other outlets has died. Jack Scheuer worked as a freelance sports stringer for the AP for 46 years after starting out with the Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper.

During a retirement tribute at Citizens Bank Park on the final day of the 2019 season, it was estimated he had covered 3,500 Phillies games and 3,600 basketball games. Scheuer was a member of the Big 5 Hall of Fame. Son Bob said his father died Friday in hospice care from kidney and cancer complications. Jack Scheuer was 88.



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