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#SportsReport: Astros and Braves both one victory away from World Series

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The Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves are both one victory away from meeting in the World Series.

Yordan Alvarez had three hits and three RBIs as the Astros hammered the Red Sox, 9-1 in Game 5 of the AL Championship Series. Alvarez opened the scoring with a second-inning blast and added a two-run double that ignited Houston’s five-run sixth.

Framber Valdez was superb over eight innings, limiting the Bosox to a run and three hits while striking out five. Valdez blanked the Red Sox until Rafael Devers homered in the seventh. He also became the first pitcher of the postseason to work eight innings.

Yuli Gurriel also had three ribbies for the Astros.

Chris Sale absorbed the loss, allowing four runs and three hits with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings. Two of the runs were unearned, thanks to an error by first baseman Kyle Schwarber in the sixth.

The Astros can advance to the World Series on Friday in Houston.

The Braves are up three games to one in their NL Championship Series after throttling the Dodgers, 9-2 in Los Angeles.

Eddie Rosario homered twice in his second four-hit game of the series. Adam Duvall and Freddie Freeman also went deep for Atlanta, which bounced right back from blowing a late lead in an agonizing loss Tuesday.

The Braves tagged Julio Urias for three home runs over the first three innings. Urias was reached for five runs and eight hits in five innings. He was baseball’s only 20-game winner this season.

The Dodgers finally broke through on AJ Pollock’s two-run single in the fifth, but that was one of just four hits allowed by six Atlanta hurlers on what became a bullpen game.

The Braves can finish up the series on Thursday in LA.

New York Mets right-hander Carlos Carrasco has had surgery to remove a bone fragment from his pitching elbow and is projected to resume baseball activities this winter.

The 34-year-old Carrasco was obtained by the Mets from Cleveland in January along with shortstop Francisco Lindor. He tore his right hamstring during spring training and didn’t make his season debut until July 30.

Carrasco went 1-5 with a 6.04 ERA in 12 starts.


The Philadelphia 76ers had little trouble winning their season opener while guard Ben Simmons stayed home.

Joel Embiid and Furkan Korkmaz each scored 22 points as the Sixers coasted to a 117-97 win at New Orleans. Embiid also finished with 12 rebounds and Korkmaz drained four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to help Philadelphia pull away.

Korkmaz nailed three 3s in less than a minute to put the Sixers up, 92-79. That was part of a 20-2 run that iced the victory.

The Sixers traveled without Simmons, who was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team.

In Wednesday’s other NBA action:

Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic had 27 points on 13 of 22 from the field and grabbed 13 rebounds in leading the Nuggets past the Suns, 110-98. Will Barton scored 20 points and Michael Porter Jr. added 15 to help the Nuggets avenge their playoff series loss to the Suns last season. Mikal Bridges led Phoenix with 16 points, while Chris Paul had 15 with 10 assists.

The Jazz opened with a 107-86 rout of the Thunder as Rudy Gobert (goh-BEHR’) contributed 16 points and 21 rebounds. Bojan Bogdanovic led Utah with 22 points and Jordan Clarkson added 18.

The Knicks and Celtics opened their seasons by playing double overtime before New York eked out a 138-134 victory. Former Celtic Evan Fournier hit four 3-pointers in the overtime and finished with 32 points. Julius Randle had a team-high 35 points to help the Knicks overcome Jaylen Brown’s career-high 46 points for Boston.

Harrison Barnes furnished 36 points and De’Aaron Fox added 27 for the Kings in a 124-121 victory over the Trail Blazers. Richaun Holmes had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings, who led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter.

Bradley Beal scored 23 points and Montrezl Harrell had 22 in his Wizards debut to lead a 98-83 victory over Toronto, spoiling the Raptors’ return to Canada. Kyle Kuzma had 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who led by as many as 29 in winning Wes Unseld Jr.’s first game as an NBA head coach.

Ja Morant had 37 points and the Grizzlies pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Cavaliers, 132-121. De’Anthony Melton added 20 points and Memphis opened the final period on a 10-0 run to go ahead by 14.

The Spurs crushed the Magic, 123-97 as Devin Vassell scored 19 points and Lonnie Walker added 17. Derrick White had 16 points for San Antonio, which is 23-2 in season openers under coach Gregg Popovich.

The Timberwolves were 124-106 winners over the Rockets behind Anthony Edwards’ 29 points in 31 minutes. Karl-Anthony Towns furnished 30 points and 10 rebounds to the victory, while D’Angelo Russell added 22 points and seven assists.

LaMelo Ball drained seven 3-pointers while scoring 31 points as the Hornets rallied past the Pacers, 123-122. Indiana led, 84-63 until Ball scored 10 points during a 24-0 spurt.

Zach LaVine scored 15 of his 34 points in the third quarter to lead the Bulls to a 94-88 victory over the Pistons. DeMar DeRozan had 17 points, and Lonzo Ball had 12 points in their Bulls debut.

New Orleans Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas has agreed to a two-year extension worth a reported $30.1 million.

Valanciunas’ extension was first reported by ESPN, which received financial terms from the center’s representative.

New Orleans acquired the 29-year-old in a trade with Memphis this past offseason. The Pelicans sent Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe to the Grizzlies for the nine-year veteran.

Valanciunas averaged 17.1 points and 12.5 rebounds with Memphis last season.


Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield will sit out Thursday’s game against the Denver Broncos with a painful left shoulder injury.

Cleveland announced that backup Case Keenum will start, ending speculation about whether Mayfield would try to push through an injury to his non-throwing shoulder that he suffered last month and has worsened in recent weeks.

Keenum has made 62 career NFL starts, most recently for Washington in 2019.

In other NFL news:

The 49ers are optimistic starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo can return this week from a right calf injury but don’t expect backup Trey Lance back for another week. Coach Kyle Shanahan says Garoppolo will be limited at practice after missing one game with the injury and is on target to play Sunday night against Indianapolis. Lance sprained his left knee when he started in place of Garoppolo.

Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has a quadriceps injury in addition to his sore left foot and is questionable for the game at Cleveland on Thursday night. Bridgewater got hit 17 times in Denver’s third consecutive loss Sunday, two weeks after he was knocked out of a game against the Ravens with a concussion. What left him limping was right guard Graham Glasgow stepping on his left foot just as he delivered a touchdown throw to Noah Fant in the closing minutes.

The Texans have released veteran defensive end Whitney Mercilus. Mercilus was one of the longest-tenured players on the team after most of the team’s stars have been traded or released in recent years.

Washington has released longtime kicker Dustin Hopkins and signed Chris Blewitt as his replacement. Hopkins missed two extra point attempts in a win over the Falcons, but he’s 12-for-14 on field goals. He was in his seventh season with the team.

The league has agreed to end race-based adjustments in dementia testing that critics said made it difficult for Black retirees to qualify for awards in the $1 billion settlement of concussion claims. That’s according to a proposed deal filed Wednesday in federal court. The revised testing plan follows public outrage over the use of “race-norming,” a practice that came to light only after two former NFL players filed a civil rights lawsuit over it in 2019. Critics of race-norming say the adjustments may have prevented hundreds of Black players suffering from dementia to win awards that average $500,000 or more.


Appalachian State sent a reminder that there’s more to Sun Belt football that Coastal Carolina.

Chandler Staton hit a 24-yard field goal as time expired, giving Appalachian State a stunning 30-27 win over the 14th-ranked Chanticleers. Chase Brice threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns, with Malik Williams catching 10 passes for 206 yards.

Camerun Peoples ran for two touchdowns for the Mountaineers, who have never lost to the Chanticleers at home.

Grayson McCall threw for 291 yards and one touchdown for Coastal Carolina, which had earned 11 straight Sun Belt Conference wins.

Six schools from Conference USA, including UAB, Texas-San Antonio and Florida Atlantic, have applied for membership to the American Athletic Conference and are expected to be accepted by the end of the week, according to two people with knowledge of the process.

The two people tell The Associated Press that Rice, North Texas and Charlotte also have applied for membership.

The American was in the market for new members after three of its most successful schools, Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida, announced in September they would be joining the Big 12. The comings and goings will leave the American with 14 members, likely for the 2023 football season.

The attorney for fired Washington State football coach Nick Rolovich says his client is prepared to take legal action.

Attorney Brian Fahling says Rolovich’s termination for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccination was unlawful and an attack on his Catholic faith.

Rolovich and four of his assistants were fired Monday for not complying with the governor’s mandate that all state employees be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Rolovich had requested a religious exemption but it was denied Monday, the state’s vaccination deadline.


One of the newest members of the Philadelphia Flyers played a major role in their 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

Cam Atkinson provided two goals, including the go-ahead score that sent him tumbling into the boards. The former Blue Jacket had the crowd going wild on his hustle-and-tumble goal only 58 seconds into the third for a 4-3 lead.

Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee added a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who also received goals from Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton.

Martin Jones handled 37 shots for Philadelphia.

In Wednesday's other NHL game, Vladimir Tarasenko broke a tie midway through the third period of the Blues’ 3-1 victory over Golden Knights. Jordan Binnington made 42 saves, and Brandon Saad and Ivan Barbashev added goals to help St. Louis open the season with a 3-0 road trip.

The Edmonton Oilers have placed goalie Mike Smith on injured reserve because of a lower-body injury.

The 39-year-old Smith was hurt in the second period of Tuesday’s 6-5 victory over the Ducks. He was replaced in the net by Mikko Koskinen.

The Oilers recalled goalie Stuart Skinner from the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League.


Atlanta United and NYCFC tied 1-1 and New England beat D.C. United 3-2.

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