Yankees strike early against Verlander, Yankees
New York (AFP) - DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks homered as New York rocked star Houston pitcher Justin Verlander for four runs in the first inning Friday in a 4-1 win that kept the Yankees alive in the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The Yankees, whose 40 World Series appearances have yielded 27 championships -- the most recent in 2009 -- pushed the American League Championship Series to a game six in Houston, pulling within 3-2 in the best-of-seven set.
With their backs against the wall, the first five Yankees batters produced four runs against Houston's Cy Young Award candidate Verlander.
LeMahieu led off by lashing a home run to right field.
Aaron Judge then singled sharply and Gleyber Torres followed with a double.
Verlander managed to strike out Giancarlo Stanton, back in the lineup as a designated hitter, but Hicks belted a three-run home run off the right field foul pole.
"I was just trying to get a pitch to hit," said Hicks, who fell behind 0-2 in the count and worked his way back to 3-2. "I was in battle mode right there."
The offensive outburst roused the crowd at Yankee Stadium, who had been quieted when Houston's George Springer scored on a wild pitch from Yankees starting pitcher James Paxton.
All the scoring came in the first inning.
Verlander settled in to pitch seven solid innings, surrendering five hits with the four runs and nine strikeouts.
Paxton pitched six strong innings and New York's relievers held the lead to push the series to game six on Saturday. The quick turnaround comes after weather concerns wiped out play on Wednesday, pushing back games four and five in New York.
The Astros -- who would host game seven if necessary on Sunday, are seeking their second World Series title in three years.
Hicks was delighted to be making the trip to Texas.
"I don't want to go home," he said. "This is too fun."
The winner of the series will take on the Washington Nationals in Major League Baseball's championship showcase.
To survive at least one more night in the ALCS, the Yankees must find a way to solve Justin Verlander. When the Cooperstown right-hander competed against New York in Game 2 of the series, he
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