Rays advance to World Series as phenom sets rookie home run record

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By RADIO.COM

The Tampa Bay Rays punched their ticket to the World Series for the second time in franchise history by defeating the Houston Astros 4-2 in a decisive Game 7 in the American League Championship Series on Saturday night.

Rays rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena continued his scalding playoff debut, cracking a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to get Tampa Bay on the board. The homer was his seventh so far in the postseason, a new rookie record, according to ESPN's Stats & Info.

Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino added a solo shot in the second, which proved to be the decisive run, and later chipped in an RBI sacrifice fly.

Houston starter Lance McCullers was lifted after 3 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on the two homers. He struck out seven.

Rays starter Charlie Morton, a former Astro, and a series of relievers combined to keep Houston's offense in check.

A two-run single by Carlos Correa during an eighth-inning rally accounted for the Astros' runs.

But Rays reliever Peter Fairbanks, brought in with the bases loaded to face Correa, recovered to strike out Alex Bregman with runners on second and third, ending the rally.

By staving off the Astros' rally from a 3-0 series deficit, the Rays averted the fate of the 2004 New York Yankees as the only team in MLB history to have lost after relinquishing such a lead.

The Rays previously appeared in the World Series in 2008, when they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies.