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Astros rout Braves, 7-2, level World Series at 1-1

Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros (AFP)

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Houston’s Jose Altuve smashed a home run and scored twice to spark the Astros over the Atlanta Braves 7-2 on Wednesday and level the World Series at one victory each.

Martin Maldonado added a two-run single for the Astros, who deadlocked Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven championship final ahead of game three Friday in Atlanta.

“It was good to come back and have the game we had as a team,” Altuve said. “We’re going to go to Atlanta now and take as many as we can there.”

The Braves, in their first World Series since 1999, seek their first championship since 1995. They are 5-0 at home this year in the playoffs.

Travis d’Arnaud of the Atlanta Braves hits a one run home run. (AFP)

The Astros, in their third World Series in five seasons, won the 2017 crown but lost the 2019 title to Washington in seven games.

Nice weather allowed the retractable Houston stadium roof to be open for only the eighth time this year.

Altuve snapped a two-game hitless streak, but the 31-year-old Venezuelan slugger said he wasn’t worried about individual production, only team triumphs.

Houston’s Jose Urquidy, a 26-year-old Mexican right-hander, struck out seven Atlanta batters over five innings for the victory.

Urquidy had pitched only once in 24 days before the start but showed no signs of rust.

The Astros opened the scoring in the first inning when Altuve doubled, took third on Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly and scored on Alex Bregman’s sacrifice fly.

Atlanta’s Travis d’Arnaud smashed a solo homer in the second inning to lift the Braves level.

But Houston broke open the game with four runs in the second off Braves southpaw starter Max Fried. Kyle Tucker singled, took third on Yuli Gurriel’s single and scored on rookie Jose Siri’s single.

Maldonado followed with a single to drive in both runners and later scored on a Brantley single for a 5-1 Astros lead.

The Braves answered in the fifth inning when Freddie Freeman singled in d’Arnaud from third.

Houston responded in the sixth when Yordan Alvarez walked and Carlos Correa singled to chase Fried.

Alvarez took third when Tucker hit into a fielder’s choice and he scored on a fielding error by Atlanta second baseman Ozzie Albies, making it 6-2.

Altuve blasted his 22nd career playoff homer off the first pitch from Atlanta reliever Drew Smyly in the seventh inning, his fourth first-pitch homer of these playoffs.