Red Sox

Celtics escape Chicago with a hard-earned win, 101-95

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Celtics escape Chicago with a hard-earned win, 101-95

CHICAGO You just knew that sooner or later the Chicago Bulls were going to make a run and force the Boston Celtics to scurry for defensive stops and a much-needed bucket or two.

It has been like that the last couple of years, especially at the United Center.

But rather than stick to the usual script, the Celtics ad-libbed this one and delivered an unexpected ending in Chicago - a Celtics victory as Boston managed to edge the undermanned Bulls, 101-95.

In addition to Derrick Rose (torn ACL, left knee), the Bulls (4-3) also played without Kirk Hinrich who was out with a hamstring injury. Replacing Hinrich in the starting lineup was former Celtic Nate Robinson, who had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Rajon Rondo led the way with a near triple-double of 20 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.

His last assist came on a baseline dunk by Brandon Bass with 22.4 seconds to play that all but secured the Celtics' win.

Not only did Monday's victory push the Celtics (4-3) above-.500 for the first time this season, it also snapped a five-game losing streak at the United Center.

In addition, Boston's 101 points scored also snapped the Bulls 15-game streak (dating back to last season) of limiting opponents to less than 100 points.

But the Bulls did their best to keep the game interesting up until the very end.

With the Celtics ahead 95-91, Luol Deng missed a pair of free throws. The Celtics, about as rebounding-challenged a team as you'll find in the NBA, failed to secure the loose ball that ultimately wound up in Deng's hands for a lay-up.

And just like that, the Celtics' comfortable lead was a one-possession game, 95-93, with 49.5 seconds to play.

Doc Rivers called a time-out, knowing full well his team was on the verge of letting yet another game in his hometown, get away from his club.

But down the stretch, Boston got all the necessary stops defensively in addition to some much-needed free throws.

Chicago's late-game surge was indeed too little, too late on a night when the Celtics led from the very beginning.

Signs of a Bulls comeback surfaced in the third quarter when Chicago had trimmed Boston's lead which peaked at 14 points in the quarter, back to single digits.

It appeared that would be their deficit going into the fourth quarter, but a last-second 3-pointer by Jared Sullinger gave the Celtics an 82-70 lead going into the decisive fourth quarter.

Boston opened the game with a steady dose of timely shot-making and stellar defense as their lead peaked at 11 points in the first.

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.