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Astros defeat Phillies 4-1 to win second World Series crown

Houston's Yordan Alvarez celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in the Astros' World Series-clinching victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. ©AFP

Washington (AFP) - Yordan Alvarez smashed a three-run homer and the Houston Astros captured their second World Series in six seasons on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over Philadelphia.

The Cuban slugger's sixth-inning blast off Phillies relief pitcher Jose Alvarado gave Houston the lead for good as the Astros took Major League Baseball's best-of-seven championship final four games to two.

"I just tried to stay a little calm and get a good pitch to swing at and that's what I did," Alvarez said of his third game-winning playoff homer.

"It was amazing.When I was rounding second base I felt the whole stadium moving."

The home victory brought 73-year-old Astros manager Dusty Baker his first World Series crown in 25 seasons as an MLB bench boss.

"That's the final chapter to the movie," Baker said."They told me in spring training they were going to win.Now what's next?Party."

Baker, whose 2,093 wins were the most for any manager without a World Series title, quickly enjoyed the long-sought title.

"It hit me all right," Baker said."It hit me as soon as Yordan hit that ball over the moon out there."

The Astros, in their fourth World Series in six seasons and fifth overall, won their only prior title in 2017.

Many MLB fans see that as a tainted title after the Astros were found to have used an electronic sign stealing system, allowing Houston batters to know what pitch was coming.

Baker took over in January 2020 after A.J.Hinch was fired over the scandal and helped the Astros put the shameful episode behind them.

"All the stuff we've been going through the last three years, hopefully it's over," Baker said."You've got to let it ride."

The Astros, who lost the 2019 World Series to Washington and 2021 Series to Atlanta, were emotional about winning the crown for Baker.

"He means everything," said Astros star Jose Altuve, among five players from 2017 still on the roster."He came here at the right time with the right team."

Houston's Jeremy Pena became the first rookie position player to be named World Series Most Valuable Player and only the second rookie MVP of a league final and World Series.

The 25-year-old Dominican became the first rookie with a hit in each of the first six games of a World Series.

"Individual awards are cool and all but that's the trophy we want right there," Pena said, looking at the champion's trophy."This is what we dream about."

The Phillies, who sought their third World Series crown after 1980 and 2008, had not reached the playoffs since 2011 and hadn't reached the World Series since 2009.

"I'm really proud of them," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said."They came to play every day.They played hard."

Philadelphia's Zack Wheeler took his second loss of the Series while Dominican left-hander Framber Valdez struck out nine and improved to 3-0 in the playoffs.

Kyle Schwarber blasted a solo homer in the sixth to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.

But in the bottom of the sixth, Altuve reached first base on a fielder's choice and took third on a Pena single, prompting the Phillies to remove Wheeler for Alvarado.

Amazing pitching

Alvarez then blasted the ball over the centerfield wall to put the hosts in front.

"Yordan has been doing it all year," Pena said."Always trust the big man.That was impressive."

"I knew as soon as he hit that one it was a big one," Altuve said."I thought 3-1 would be a good lead for us to win the ball game."

Alex Bregman added another run in the sixth when he walked, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a Christian Vazquez single to create the final margin.

Astros relief pitchers allowed only two runs over 18 1/3 innings with 25 strikeouts in five games and again dominated Phillies batters over the final three innings to seal victory.

"This pitching staff has been amazing all year," Houston's Martin Maldonado said."The bullpen has been really good.We get to them and then adios."

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