Beltran, Astros even series; Red Sox stay alive in ALCS

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 29, 2004

HOUSTON (AP) - By the time Carlos Beltran's shot landed in Houston's bullpen, this much was clear: At least baseball had one competitive playoff series still going.

Beltran did it again, homering in a record fifth straight postseason game and lifting the Astros over the St. Louis Cardinals 6-5 Sunday to even the NL championship series at 2-all.

Beltran's tiebreaking shot in the seventh inning off Astros nemesis Julian Tavarez ensured the teams will go back to Busch Stadium to settle who goes to the World Series.

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Meantime, there's Game 5 Monday night, with Brandon Backe starting for Houston against Woody Williams.

Sluggers again dominated. Not quite the way they did at Fenway Park, where the Yankees obliterated Boston 19-8 Saturday night for a 3-0 lead in the ALCS.

Albert Pujols homered for St. Louis, then came close to a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth against Brad Lidge. But the ball was caught on the warning track, and the Astros closer struck out Scott Rolen for his second straight save.

Lance Berkman also homered for Houston, giving the teams a combined 19 home runs through only four games.

Beltran broke Jeffrey Leonard's 1987 mark for consecutive postseason games with a home run, and matched Barry Bonds' 2002 record for homers in a single postseason.

Bagwell hit an RBI double in the first and Berkman doubled home two more runs in the third.

Berkman's third homer of the NLCS pulled the Astros to 5-4 in the sixth against reliever Kiko Calero.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 4,12 innings

BOSTON (AP) - Down to their last three outs of the season, the Boston Red Sox rallied - against Mariano Rivera, the New York Yankees and decades of disappointment.

Bill Mueller singled home the tying run off Rivera in the ninth inning and David Ortiz homered against Paul Quantrill in the 12th, leading Boston to a 6-4 victory over the Yankees on Sunday night that avoided a four-game sweep in the AL championship series.

Pedro Martinez will start for Boston in Game 5 Monday against Mike Mussina, trying to force the series back to New York the following night. If the Sox win, injured Curt Schilling is expected to be ready to start Game 6.

Red Sox fans who had been praying, holding hands and hoping against hope a few innings earlier burst into cheers when Ortiz connected. Long after Sunday turned into Monday, there was still plenty of energy in old Fenway Park.

Even Ortiz danced home to his waiting teammates at home plate.

This game lasted 5 hours, 2 minutes and ended at 1:22 a.m. EDT, just one night after New York's 19-8 win took 4:20.

Of the 25 previous teams to fall behind 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, 20 were swept, three lost in five games and the other two lost in six.

Quantrill, New York's fifth pitcher, relieved Tom Gordon to start the 12th and allowed a leadoff single to Manny Ramirez. Ortiz's shot on a 2-1 pitch landed in the right-field bullpen.

Boston was facing the end of a disappointing end to a season when Rivera walked Kevin Millar walked leading off the ninth.

Pinch-runner Dave Roberts stole second on the first pitch to Mueller, who lined one up the middle as Roberts easily scored and Rivera swung his right arm in disgust. He has blown just four saves in 34 postseason chances, but two have come this year. He has lost to Boston twice to Boston during the regular season.

Doug Mientkiewicz followed with a sacrifice, and Johnny Damon hit a hopper to first that Tony Clark, playing in place of injured John Olerud, fumbled for an error. That left runners at first and third.

Orlando Cabrera struck out, the Yankees let Damon take second and Ramirez walked, loading the bases for Ortiz, who flied to right.

With closer Keith Foulke already having pitched 2 2-3 innings, Alan Embree came in and got through the 10th. Curtis Leskanic escaped an 11th-inning jam by getting Bernie Williams on a bases-loaded flyout, then stranded a runner at second in the 12th by striking out Miguel Cairo.

Notes: Ray Boone, who died Sunday, was honored with a moment of silence before the game. His grandson, Aaron, hit the home run that won Game 7 for the Yankees last year.