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Live updates: Rays clinch second-ever World Series berth with 4-2 win over Astros

Charlie Morton pitches a gem, and Randy Arozarena and Mike Zunino have two RBIs apiece in a Game 7 win.
Game 7 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in San Diego. The series is tied 3-3 games.
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Game 7 of a baseball American League Championship Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in San Diego. The series is tied 3-3 games. [ Denis Poroy ]
Published Oct. 17, 2020
Updated Oct. 18, 2020

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Charlie Morton pitched five-plus scoreless innings and Randy Arozarena and Mike Zunino drove in two runs apiece as the Rays beat the Astros 4-2 in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series Saturday at Petco Park in San Diego.

The Rays advanced to the World Series for the first time in 12 seasons and only the second in their 23-season history. They’ll have a shot at their first-ever title beginning Tuesday in Arlington, Texas, against the winner of the NLCS between the Braves and Dodgers.

Tampa Bay shook off the effects of three straight defeats by jumping out to a 2-0, first-inning lead.

After leadoff hitter Manuel Margot was hit by a pitch, Arozarena, who would be named the series' Most Valuable Player, drove a 97 mph sinker from Lance McCullers Jr. 416 feet over the centerfield wall.

One inning later, Zunino knocked an 83 mph knuckle-curve from McCullers 430 feet to left-center to extend the Rays' lead to 3-0. He added a sacrifice fly off Jose Urquidy in the sixth inning.

The Astros got two runs back in the eighth.

Aledmys Diaz drew a walk, advanced to second on a George Springer groundout and went to third on a Jose Altuve single deep into the hole at shortstop. Pete Fairbanks was brought in to relieve Nick Anderson and walked Michael Brantley to load the bases. Carlos Correa drove in two runs with a single to right.

Morton struck out six over 5-2/3 innings, allowing two hits and a walk. He was relieved by Anderson after a walk and an Altuve infield single put runners at the corners with two outs in the sixth. Anderson induced a groundout from Brantley to end the inning.

The Astros threatened in the seventh, as Alex Bregman singled down the rightfield line and Kyle Tucker singled to center, moving Bregman to third with one out. But Anderson got Yuli Gurriel to hit into a double play, escaping the jam.

Houston still wasn’t done, as Yuli Gurriel lined a one-out single to right in the ninth. But Fairbanks struck out Josh Reddick and got Aledmys Diaz to fly out to rightfielder Manuel Margot to end the game.

McCullers, a Tampa native and former Jesuit High standout, lasted only 3-2/3 innings. He allowed three runs on four hits, including two home runs, and one walk while striking out seven.

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Postgame celebration

Ninth inning

Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning.
Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Pete Fairbanks pitching)

Kyle Tucker strikes out swinging

Yuli Gurriel lines a single to rightfield

Josh Reddick strikes out swinging

Aledmys Diaz flies out to rightfielder Manuel Margot

Rays win 4-2 and clinch a World Series berth

Eighth inning

Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi is congratulated by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier after scoring during the sixth inning.
Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi is congratulated by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier after scoring during the sixth inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Nick Anderson pitching)

Josh Reddick grounds out to second baseman Brandon Lowe

Aledmys Diaz pinch-hits for Martin Maldonado

Diaz draws a walk

George Springer grounds out to third baseman Joey Wendle. Diaz advances to second

Jose Altuve singles deep into the hole at shortstop, moving Diaz to third

Pete Fairbanks relieves Anderson

(Pete Fairbanks pitching)

Altuve advances to second on a wild pitch

Michael Brantley draws a walk

Carlos Correa singles to rightfield, scoring Diaz and Altuve and moving Brantley to second. Rays 4, Astros 2

Alex Bregman strikes out swinging

Rays at bat (Blake Tayor pitching)

Austin Meadows grounds out to shortstop Carlos Correa

Ji-Man Choi drops a single into leftfield

Enoli Paredes relieves Taylor

(Enoli Paredes pitching)

Willy Adames draws a walk, moving Choi to second

Mike Brosseau pinch-runs for Choi

Joey Wendle grounds into a double play

Rays 4, Astros 2 after eight innings

Seventh inning

Rays catcher Mike Zunino is congratulated by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier after hitting a solo home run during the second inning.
Rays catcher Mike Zunino is congratulated by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier after hitting a solo home run during the second inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Nick Anderson pitching)

Carlos Correa lines out to centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier

Alex Bregman singles down the rightfield line

Kyle Tucker singles to centerfield, moving Bregman to third

Yuli Gurriel hits into a double play

Rays at bat (Blake Tayor pitching)

Manuel Margot grounds out to third baseman Alex Bregman

Brandon Lowe strikes out swinging

Randy Arozarena grounds out to shortstop Carlos Correa

Rays 4, Astros 0 after seven innings

Sixth inning

Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena hits a two-run home run during the first inning.
Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena hits a two-run home run during the first inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Charlie Morton pitching)

Josh Reddick strikes out swinging

Martin Maldonado draws a walk

George Springer grounds into a forceout, retiring Maldonado at second

Jose Altuve reaches on an infield single, Springer advancing to third

Nick Anderson relieves Morton

Michael Brantley grounds out to second baseman Brandon Lowe

Rays at bat (Jose Urquidy pitching)

Ji-Man Choi singles to centerfield

Willy Adames draws a walk, moving Choi to second

Joey Wendle flies out to rightfielder Josh Reddick. Choi advances to third

Mike Zunino hits a sacrifice fly to centerfielder George Springer, scoring Choi. Rays 4, Astros 0

Kevin Kiermaier strikes out swinging

Rays 4, Astros 0 after six innings

Fifth inning

Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena lies on the field after being tagged out at second base as Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa look on during the third inning.
Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena lies on the field after being tagged out at second base as Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve and shortstop Carlos Correa look on during the third inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Charlie Morton pitching)

Alex Bregman grounds out to third baseman Joey Wendle. First baseman Ji-Man Choi makes a nice stretch to field the high throw

Kyle Tucker strikes out looking

Yuli Gurriel flies out to rightfielder Manuel Margot

Rays at bat (Jose Urquidy pitching)

Manuel Margot draws a walk

Brandon Lowe grounds into a forceout, retiring Margot at second

Randy Arozarena strikes out swinging

Austin Meadows pops out Carlos Correa in foul territory

Rays 3, Astros 0 after five innings

Fourth inning

Rays catcher Mike Zunino hits a solo home run during the second inning.
Rays catcher Mike Zunino hits a solo home run during the second inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Charlie Morton pitching)

Jose Altuve strikes out swinging

Michael Brantley flies out to rightfielder Manuel Margot

Carlos Correa called out on strikes

Rays at bat (Lance McCullers pitching)

Willy Adames strikes out swinging

Joey Wendle singles to centerfield

Mike Zunino strikes out swinging

Brooks Raley relieves McCullers

(Brooks Raley pitching)

Kevin Kiermaier strikes out swinging

Rays 3, Astros 0 after four innings

Third inning

Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning.
Rays leftfielder Randy Arozarena is congratulated after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Charlie Morton pitching)

Josh Reddick grounds out to first baseman Ji-Man Choi

Martin Maldonado strikes out swinging

George Springer grounds out to third baseman Joey Wendle

Rays at bat (Lance McCullers pitching)

Brandon Lowe reaches on an infield single

Randy Arozarena reaches on a fielder’s choice, pitcher Lance McCullers retiring Lowe at second

Austin Meadows hits into a forceout, Jose Altuve throwing out Arozarena at second. A replay review upholds the call on the field

Ji-Man Choi flies out to leftfielder Kyle Tucker

Rays 3, Astros 0 after three innings

Second inning

Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton delivers during the first inning.
Rays starting pitcher Charlie Morton delivers during the first inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Astros at bat (Charlie Morton pitching)

Shortstop Willy Adames goes to his left to make a sliding stop on an Alex Bregman grounder up the middle, then throws a strike that beats Bregman to first

Kyle Tucker grounds out to first baseman Ji-Man Choi

Yuli Gurriel flies out to leftfielder Randy Arozarena

Rays at bat (Lance McCullers pitching)

Joey Wendle grounds out to second baseman Jose Altuve

Mike Zunino homers to left-centerfield. Rays 3, Astros 0

Kevin Kiermaier strikes out looking

Manuel Margot strikes out on a foul tip

Rays 3, Astros 0 after two innings

First inning

The Rays get ready for Game 7.
The Rays get ready for Game 7. [ Denis Poroy ]

Astros at bat (Charlie Morton pitching)

George Springer grounds out to second baseman Brandon Lowe

Jose Altuve flies out to centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier

Michael Brantley singles to leftfield

Carlos Correa strikes out swinging

Rays at bat (Lance McCullers pitching)

Manuel Margot is hit by a pitch

Brandon Lowe strikes out swinging

Randy Arozarena hits a two-run home run to centerfield. Rays 2, Astros 0

Austin Meadows strikes out swinging

Ji-Man Choi draws a walk

Willy Adames strikes out swinging

Rays 2, Astros 0 after one inning

Your pregame scouting report

Rays shortstop Willy Adames hits an RBI double during the second inning.
Rays shortstop Willy Adames hits an RBI double during the second inning. [ DENIS POROY | Special to the Times ]

Nothing is given in the postseason.

Winning the first three games of the American League Championship Series did not grant the Rays entry into the World Series, as the Astros have shown by battling back to tie the series.

Likewise, winning the past three nights guarantees Houston nothing when Game 7 gets underway tonight at Petco Park in San Diego.

Momentum, maybe. But nothing more.

To get to the World Series, one of these teams will have to seize the opportunity in front of it.

And what an opportunity it is: Win, and the Rays will advance to the World Series for only the second time in their 23-season history, with a chance to secure their first title. Lose, and they’ll join the 2004 Yankees as the only teams in MLB history to blow a three-game lead in dropping a playoff series.

Tampa Bay will have two things going for it, right off the bat.

Starting pitcher Charlie Morton has pitched in Game 7s before, and successfully at that. He became the first pitcher in major-league history to win a pair of Game 7s in one postseason while pitching for the Astros in 2017.

And three-time Gold Gold winner Kevin Kiermaier, who played in the first three games of the ALCS — all wins — but was sidelined for the three losses after being hit in the hand by a pitch during Game 3, is back in centerfield.

Plus, leftfielder Randy Arozarena remains red hot. So much so that you had to be wondering, even with the Rays trailing by three runs, a runner on first and Mike Brosseau at bat with two outs in the ninth Friday night, what might have happened had Arozarena, waiting in the on-deck circle, had a chance to get to the plate.

Tampa native Lance McCullers Jr., who started the 2017 World Series Game 7 that Morton finished, will be on the mound for the Astros.

How will the 2020 Rays be remembered? Follow along, starting at 8:37 p.m., and we’ll find out together.

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