Red Sox

Allen sits out practice; availability for playoffs unknown

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Allen sits out practice; availability for playoffs unknown

WALTHAM A key player is close to coming back, but a nagging injury keeps him sidelined.

The Boston Celtics went through this a year ago with Shaquille O'Neal, whose gimpy calf injury kept him off the floor for all but 12 minutes of the playoffs.

Boston seems to be dealing with a similar situation with Ray Allen, whose right ankle injury remains serious enough to keep him on the bench.

The Celtics had a rare practice on Monday, with Allen among those unable to participate.

"It's getting better slowly," said coach Doc Rivers. "Until it gets better, we're just going to sit him."

Allen has missed 13 games because of the injury, including the last seven.

On Monday, Allen said the ankle also has bone spurs that have added to the discomfort he has been feeling.

"The other day when it swelled," Allen said, "they say they could be the size of a grain of sand but they're not supposed to be in there so as they swell, they move around and as the swelling goes down, they rest."

Allen's availability remains a mystery for the Celtics, who will begin their playoff journey against Atlanta on either Saturday or Sunday.

Both Rivers and Allen said he will not play Tuesday against the Miami Heat, but there's a chance that Allen might see action on Thursday.

"Ray wants to play just to get some rhythm," Rivers said. "So if he can play Thursday, we'll play him. Not a lot, but we'll play him. But if not, then we'll wait until the playoffs."

For now, that seems so far away . . . too far away for Allen to be giving it much thought right now.

"Today is Monday, and Tuesday we'll go at it and see where we're at Wednesday," Allen said. "Over the last week, it swelled on me in moments where I don't think it should have. We don't know why; just try to take it one day at a time."

He has experienced his ankle swelling inexplicably too many times to assume that he'll be good to go in another day or two.

"In New York (on April 17th) I went through shootaround," Allen recalled. "And that afternoon, it swelled. I didn't do anything; I didn't turn or do anything detrimental. It just blew up. Next day I was dealing with it. for the last four or something days, I've been trying to get that swelling out of it so I can move it the right way. That's kind of where we are."

Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

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Astros beat Yankees in Game 7 to advance to World Series, 4-0

HOUSTON - Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest, too, before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.