Justin Verlander

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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HOUSTON — Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

MLB Notes: Astros acquire Justin Verlander to boost rotation

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MLB Notes: Astros acquire Justin Verlander to boost rotation

HOUSTON -- The Houston Astros have acquired Justin Verlander in a trade with the Detroit Tigers.

The right-hander joins the American League West leaders and a rotation that includes Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers.

Astros owner Jim Crane says: "He adds a boost to our rotation. He's been pitching well. We think he'll give us some leadership. He's been in the playoffs before and adds a dimension we didn't have."

The 34-year-old Verlander, who won the Cy Young Award in 2011, is 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA this season. The Tigers will receive three minor league prospects.

Crane hopes Verlander is a piece that can help the Astros in the postseason. He says: "We hope it positions us to get into the playoffs, get by the first round, get into the second round and get to the world series and win it. That's what we've been working at and that's what we'll continue to work at and we want to win" (see full story).   

Giants: Bumgarner scratched with flu-like symptoms
SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was a late scratch for Thursday night's game against the St. Louis Cardinals as a result of flu symptoms, the team announced.

Right-hander Matt Cain (3-10, 5.75 ERA) started in his place. The team has not yet announced when Bumgarner will return to the starting rotation.

Bumgarner (3-6, 2.85) is 3-3 in nine starts since coming off the disabled list on July 15 after spending nearly three months on it with a left shoulder AC sprain and bruised ribs. The 28-year-old lefthander suffered the injuries in a dirt-biking accident in Colorado on April 20.

Reds: Votto gives bat, jersey to 6-year-old cancer patient
CINCINNATI -- A young cancer patient got quite a souvenir when Reds star Joey Votto hit a home run. A couple of them, in fact.

After Votto rounded the bases in the seventh inning during a 7-2 win over the Mets on Thursday, he waved to 6-year-old Walter Herbert , who was sitting in the front row near the Cincinnati dugout and wearing a blue shirt that said: "BE KIND."

Votto high-fived the boy, then gave him a bat and a red No. 19 jersey while the game went on.

"We did not expect that," Walter's mom, Emily, said in an interview with The Associated Press after the game. "We thought he'd say hi when he recognized him. We were very surprised he went all out."

Votto declined to talk about his gesture after the game. Told that the family was thrilled, Votto said, "Well, that's what's important."

Best of MLB: Astros sweep Rangers for 10th straight win

Best of MLB: Astros sweep Rangers for 10th straight win

ARLINGTON, Texas -- George Springer hit two of Houston's four home runs and the Astros matched their Texas rival for the longest winning streak in the majors this season at 10 games, beating the Rangers 7-2 on Sunday.

The Astros scored in all four innings pitched by Martin Perez (2-6) and tied a club record from 1989 with their 10th straight road win. Houston's first sweep of Texas since July 2014 dropped the Rangers to 3-11 since their 10-game streak.

Defending AL West champion Texas (26-31) is 15 games behind the division-leading Astros, who have a major leagues' best at 41-16 record -- and six wins in seven games against the Rangers.

Brad Peacock (3-0) won a major league start for the first time since Sept. 2, 2014, pitching past the fifth inning for the first time in his third start following 12 relief appearances. He struck out nine in six innings, allowing two runs (see full recap).

Upton walk-off homer gives Tigers win, but Detroit loses Verlander to groin injury
DETROIT -- Justin Upton hit a game-ending, three-run homer, and the Detroit Tigers overcame Justin Verlander's groin injury to beat the Chicago White Sox 7-4 on Sunday for a sweep of their weekend series.

Nicholas Castellanos was hit by a pitch from David Robertson (3-2) leading off the Detroit ninth. Second baseman Yunel Sanchez then misplayed a potential double-play ball and was only able to get Miguel Cabrera at first.

J.D. Martinez was intentionally walked to get to Upton, who drove a 1-2 curveball over the wall in left for his 11th homer.

Martinez also connected for the Tigers, who have won four straight and five of six to move back to .500 at 28-28. Justin Wilson (3-1) picked up the win with a scoreless inning (see full recap).

Zimmerman lifts Nationals past A's, 11-10
OAKLAND,Calif. -- Ryan Zimmerman hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the eighth inning, and the Washington Nationals held off the Oakland Athletics 11-10 on Sunday.

Matt Wieters and Michael Taylor added back-to-back homers off Frankie Montas during Washington's five-run ninth, helping the NL East leaders improve to 5-1 on their nine-game West Coast trip.

But the Nationals nearly blew an 11-4 lead in the ninth, highlighting their continued trouble with closing out games. Koda Glover allowed the first five batters to reach before he was replaced by Shawn Kelley, who surrendered a grand slam by Matt Joyce with one out. Kelley then retired the next two batters to finish Oakland's seventh loss in nine games.