Adolis Garcia homered twice and drove in five runs to set an MLB post-season record for RBIs in a series, and the Texas Rangers rolled to an 11-4 victory over the rival Houston Astros in Monday's Game 7 of the American League Championship Series to secure their first World Series appearance since 2011.

Garcia went 4 for 5 to cap a sensational ALCS in which he amassed 15 RBIs, the most by any player in a play-off series in MLB history. The Cuban slugger homered in each of the final four games and was an obvious choice for series MVP.

Corey Seager and Nathaniel Lowe also homered and rookie Evan Carter had a two-run double for Texas, which won Games 6 and 7 in Houston to improve to 8-0 on the road in these playoffs, tying an MLB record for consecutive away wins to begin a single post-season set by the 1996 New York Yankees.

Rangers skipper Bruce Bochy made history as well by becoming the first manager to win a League Championship Series with three different teams. The 68-year-old previously guided the San Francisco Giants to World Series titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and led the San Diego Padres to the 1998 Fall Classic.

He'll now try to end the Rangers' 61-year drought without a World Series title, the longest of the six current MLB franchises that have never won one. Texas lost to Bochy's Giants in the 2010 World Series and to the St. Louis Cardinals the following year in their lone other previous appearance.

The defending World Series champion Astros were bidding to become the first team to win three consecutive league pennants since the Yankees did so in four straight seasons from 1998-2001.

They fell behind early, however, as Texas scored three times off Cristian Javier in the first inning.

Seager started the scoring with a one-out homer and Carter singled and stole second before coming home on Garcia's base hit for a quick 2-0 lead. Garcia then stole second and came around on a single by Mitch Garver.

Javier was pulled after recording just one out and allowing three runs on four hits. The right-hander entered Game 7 with a 1.69 ERA while winning both of his two previous starts in this post-season.

The Astros got a run back in the bottom of the first when Jose Altuve doubled off Max Scherzer and later scored on Jose Abreu's single, but Garcia's first homer of the night restored Texas' three-run advantage in the third.

Alex Bregman got Houston back within two with a solo homer off Scherzer in the bottom of the third, but the Rangers scored four times off J.P. France in the fourth to break the game open.

After loading the bases with one out on two singles and a walk, Carter doubled to right to bring in two runs and Garcia drove in two more with a single that pushed the lead to 8-2.

Scherzer permitted two runs in 2 2/3 innings before being removed in favour of Jordan Montgomery, who tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his second win of the ALCS.

Lowe's two-run homer in the sixth stretched Texas' lead to 10-2. The Astros got a run back on Yordan Alvarez's RBI single in the seventh before Garcia went deep again in the eighth for the Rangers' final run.


Merrill Kelly and four relievers shut down the Philadelphia Phillies' powerful lineup as the Arizona Diamondbacks forced a deciding Game 7 of the National League Championship Series with Monday's 5-1 win.

With the Diamondbacks facing elimination at a hostile Citizens Bank Park, Kelly rose to the occasion by striking out eight over five innings and holding the potent Phillies to one run on three hits. The veteran right-hander ended his stellar Game 6 performance by retiring Philadelphia sluggers Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner and Bryce Harper in order, with two of the outs via strikeout.

Ryan Thompson, Andrew Saalfrank, Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald limited the Phillies to three singles the rest of the way to send the series to Tuesday's winner-take-all game in Philadelphia, where the defending NL champion Phillies outscored Arizona by a 15-3 margin in winning the first two matchups.

The underdog Diamondbacks, the NL's sixth and final playoff seed, will send rookie Brandon Pfaadt to the mound opposite Ranger Suarez in a rematch of Game 3 starters. Arizona won that contest, 2-1, with Pfaadt throwing 5 2/3 scoreless innings.

Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit back-to-back solo homers in the second inning to back Kelly's strong outing, while Ketel Marte had two hits and two RBIs.

Pham and Gurriel's consecutive blasts of Aaron Nola gave Arizona a 2-0 lead, and the Diamondbacks tacked on another run in the second when Alek Thomas followed with a walk and scored on Evan Longoria's double.

The Phillies got a run back in their half of the second when J.T. Realmuto doubled and scored on Brandon Marsh's single, but provided few offensive threats the rest of the way to lose for the first time in seven home games this post-season.

Philadelphia has homered three times in each of its three wins in this series, but has just one combined in the three losses.

Nola didn't make it out of the fifth inning, as Marte ended his night with a one-out RBI triple that extended Arizona's advantage to 4-1. The right-hander, who went 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA over his first three starts of this year's playoffs, was tagged for four runs in 4 1/3 innings.

Marte also drove in the Diamondbacks' final run with a seventh-innng single that brought in Geraldo Perdomo, who reached on a single and stole second.


The Texas Rangers hit three home runs, including a grand slam from Adolis Garcia, to back another successful post-season start from Nathan Eovaldi and force a deciding Game 7 of the American League Championship Series with Sunday's 9-2 victory over the Houston Astros.

Jonah Heim and Mitch Garver also homered to help Texas avoid elimination and move to 7-0 on the road during these playoffs. The Rangers also bounced back from a tough 5-4 loss in Friday's Game 5, when they took a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning but gave up a go-ahead three-run homer to Houston's Jose Altuve.

Texas will again be on the road in Monday's Game 7, when it will send three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer to the mound against the Astros' Cristian Javier.

Jose Leclerc, who surrendered Altuve's dramatic Game 5 blast, rebounded by pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning before the Rangers broke things open with a five-run ninth highlighted by Garcia's slam.

Eovaldi continued his playoff heroics by holding the Astros to two runs over 6 1/3 innings. The 2023 All-Star has now won all four of his starts while pitching to a 2.42 ERA this post-season.

Heim began Texas' power barrage with an opposite-field, two-run homer off Astros starter Framber Valdez in the fourth inning that snapped a 1-1 tie, and Eovaldi made the lead hold up by not allowing a hit after Yordan Alvarez's RBI single in the first until Houston broke through in the sixth.

Alvarez and Jose Abreu broke the string with consecutive singles and Mauricio Dubon later brought home Alvarez with a sacrifice fly to cut the Astros' deficit to 3-2.

Garver's RBI double in the top of the eighth pushed the Rangers' lead back to two, but Houston threatened in their half by loading the bases with one out on a pair of walks and an Abreu single.

Leclerc got Dubon to line out to shortstop Corey Seager, however, before striking out pinch-hitter Jon Singleton to keep the score 4-2. 

The Rangers then loaded the bases in the ninth on a walk, an error and a Marcus Semien single. After Houston reliever Ryne Stanek hit Seager to force in a run, Garcia - who struck out in his four previous plate appearances - launched a pitch over the wall in left to stake Texas to an insurmountable 9-2 lead.

Houston opened the scoring in the first when Altuve singled, stole second and came home on Alvarez's base hit, but the lead was short-lived when Garver homered off Valdez in the second for his first of three hits on the night.

Valdez lasted five innings and allowed three runs while striking out six. 

The Philadelphia Phillies are one win away from returning to the World Series.

Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto each hit home runs, Zack Wheeler pitched seven strong innings and the Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-1 Saturday to take a 3-2 NLCS lead.

Philadelphia bounced back from losses in Games 3 and 4 with their sixth multi-homer game of this postseason, and Wheeler won a battle of aces against Arizona’s Zac Gallen.

The Phillies jumped on Gallen for two runs in the first, courtesy of a Bryson Stott RBI single and Harper swiping home on a double-steal call.

Harper and Schwarber stayed red hot with solo shots off Gallen in the sixth to expand the lead to 4-0.

Schwarber’s home run was his fifth of the series and was the 20th of his postseason career, pulling him into a tie for fourth all-time with Derek Jeter.

Harper reached base three times and scored three runs, and last year’s NLCS MVP is batting .343 with a 1.282 OPS this postseason.

Arizona cut the lead to 4-1 in the seventh when Game 4 hero Alek Thomas took Wheeler deep, but Realmuto added insurance with his two-run blast off Luis Frias in the eighth.

Wheeler allowed one run and six hits in seven innings while striking out eight and lowering his career postseason ERA to 2.48.

With a healthy cushion late, the Phillies were able to rest key relievers Jose Alvarado and Craig Kimbrel.

After a travel day Sunday, Aaron Nola is slated to start Monday at home as the Phillies look to repeat as National League champions. Merrill Kelly will take the bump for Arizona, hoping to extend the Diamondbacks’ season.


For a second straight night, the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied late to stun the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League Championship Series.

Arizona scored three times in the eighth inning, highlighted by Alek Thomas' pinch-hit, game-tying two-run homer, to earn a critical 6-5 win over the defending NL champions in Friday's Game 4 that evened the best-of-seven series at two games apiece.

After losing Games 1 and 2 in Philadelphia by a combined score of 15-3, the Diamondbacks got back into the series with Thursday's 2-1 comeback victory in Game 3, in which they trailed 1-0 in the seventh inning and won it on Ketel Marte's run-scoring single off Phillies closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth.

Kimbrel came on in the eighth of Game 4 to protect a 5-3 Phillies' lead and again faltered. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. led off Arizona's half of the inning with a double and two batters later, Thomas drove a pitch into Chase Field's swimming pool in right-centre field to tie the contest.

Marte later singled with two out and Kimbrel hit Corbin Carroll with a pitch to set the stage for Gabriel Moreno, who greeted reliever Jose Alvarado with a single to center that drove in Marte for a 6-5 Arizona edge.

Philadelphia got the tying run in scoring position in the ninth when Kyle Schwarber doubled with two out, but Diamondbacks closer Paul Sewald struck out Trea Turner to end the game and keep the momentum in Arizona's favour.

In a series where the home team has won every time thus far, the Diamondbacks will host Game 5 on Saturday.

Arizona took a 2-0 lead on Emmanuel Rivera's RBI single in the second inning and Moreno's base hit in the third that also plated Marte, but the battle-tested Phillies responded with five runs over the next four innings to forge ahead.

Schwarber got them on the board in the fourth with his fourth home run of the series and Brandon Marsh doubled home J.T. Realmuto in the fifth to create a 2-2 tie. The Phillies then took advantage of wildness and a defensive miscue by the young Diamondbacks to score twice more in the sixth.

Andrew Saalfrank, one of eight Arizona pitchers used on the night, walked Schwarber, Turner and Bryce Harper in succession to load the bases for Alec Bohm, who delivered an infield single to send home Schwarber with the go-ahead run. Third baseman Rivera threw errantly to home plate on the play, allowing Turner to score as well and put Philadelphia ahead 4-2.

The Phillies tacked on another run when Johan Rojas tripled in the seventh and scored on Turner's sacrifice fly.

Both Schwarber and Bohm had two hits and an RBI for the Phillies. Moreno finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs for Arizona, while Marte had two hits and scored twice.

Jose Altuve's go-ahead three-run homer in the ninth inning put the Houston Astros a win away from another World Series trip with a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Texas Rangers in Friday's pivotal and testy Game 5 of the American League Championship Series.

Altuve's blast off Rangers closer Jose Leclerc highlighted a wild late-game sequence that also contained a benches-clearing incident between the two AL West rivals when Houston's Bryan Abreu hit Texas' Adolis Garcia with a pitch in the eighth inning.

Garcia had belted a three-run homer off Astros starter Justin Verlander in his previous plate appearance, with the sixth-inning shot giving the Rangers a 4-2 lead.

After tempers cooled and order restored following the altercation, which led to the ejections of Abreu, Garcia and Astros manager Dusty Baker, Houston put two on with none out in the ninth after Yainer Diaz singled and Leclerc walked pinch-hitter Jon Singleton.

Altuve then sent Leclerc's 0-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his 26th career post-season homer and a 5-4 Houston advantage.

The Rangers did threaten in the bottom of the ninth when Mitch Garver and Jonah Heim opened their half of the frame with singles. However, Astros closer Ryan Pressly retired Texas No. 1-3 hitters - Marcus Semien, Corey Seager and Evan Carter - in succession to give the defending World Series champs their third straight win of the best-of-seven series after dropping the first two games.

Houston can capture a third straight AL pennant at home in Saturday's Game 6. The visiting team has won every game of the series thus far, however, and the Rangers are 6-0 on the road during this post-season.

The Astros controlled the early part of Game 5 behind Verlander, who allowed just three hits and one walk through the first five innings as Houston held a 2-1 lead. 

Texas' bats then came to life in the sixth, as Seager laced a one-out double and Carter singled in front of Garcia's towering homer that put the Rangers in front.

Alex Bregman's solo homer off Jordan Montgomery in the first gave Houston an early advantage they held until Nathaniel Lowe homered off Verlander in the fifth.

The Astros went back ahead in the sixth when Bregman walked, took third on Yordan Alvarez's single and scored on Jose Abreu's base hit to center.

Montgomery allowed two runs on five hits through 5 1/3 innings, while Verlander surrendered four runs and six hits over 5 2/3 innings.



Jose Abreu hit a three-run homer and Yordan Alvarez knocked in three runs to lead the Houston Astros to a 10-3 rout of the Texas Rangers on Thursday, evening the AL Championship Series at two games apiece.

Chas McCormick had a two-run homer and Jose Altuve added three hits and three runs as Houston improved to 4-0 on the road this postseason.

The Astros have scored 18 runs in two road wins after managing just four in two home losses to open this series.

Houston jumped on starter Andrew Heaney for three runs in the first inning.

Jose Altuve led off with a double, moved to third on Mauricio Dubon’s single and both runners scored on Alex Bregman’s triple.

Alvarez then singled home Bregman for his first RBI of the night.

Texas battled back to tie on Adolis Garcia’s homer and Josh Jung’s sacrifice fly in the second and Corey Seager’s home run off Jose Urquidy in the third.

Houston responded with four runs in the fourth, as Alvarez had a 401-foot, tiebreaking sacrifice fly before Abreu connected for a three-run blast – his fourth home run of the postseason - off Cody Bradford.

Game 5 is Friday at Globe Life Field, where the Astros are 8-1 this season.


Marte’s walk-off single lifts Diamondbacks over Phillies in Game 3

Ketel Marte singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks trimmed their deficit in the NL Championship Series to 2-1 with a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Arizona bounced back after dropping the first two games in Philadelphia and can even the series at home in Game 4 on Friday.

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. opened the ninth against Craig Kimbrel with a walk, stole second and took third on Pavin Smith’s infield single.

Gurriel was thrown out at the plate by shortstop Trea Turner on Emmanuel Rivera’s hard-hit grounder before Geraldo Perdomo’s walk loaded the bases.

Marte then stroked a liner in front of center fielder Johan Rojas for this third hit of the game.

Defending NL champion Philadelphia managed just three hits and suffered its second postseason loss in nine games.

Rookie Brandon Pfaadt was brilliant in keeping the hot-hitting Phillies in check, giving up two hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings with no walks and nine strikeouts.

After Kevin Ginkel pitched a perfect eighth for the Diamondbacks, Paul Sewald earned the win with a hitless ninth.

The Phillies scored their lone run in the seventh when Bryce Harper came home on Ryan Thompson’s wild pitch.

Yordan Alvarez and Martin Maldonado each had two-run singles and the Houston Astros roughed up Max Scherzer in an 8-5 victory on Wednesday to cut their deficit in the AL Championship Series to 2-1.

Jose Altuve homered and Maurico Dubon added three hits for Houston, which rebounded on the road after losing the first two games at home.

The defending World Series champion Astros will try to even the best-of-seven series in Game 4 on Thursday.

Josh Jung hit a pair of two-run homers, but Texas suffered its first postseason loss in eight games.

Scherzer, making his first start in more than a month, lasted only four innings after allowing five runs and five hits with one walk and four strikeouts.

Cristian Javier was far more effective, yielding two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings.

He extended his postseason scoreless streak to 20 1/3 innings before it ended in the fifth on Jung’s first home run.

Hector Neris surrendered Jung’s second home run before Bryan Abreu gave up a run in the eighth on Adolis Garcia’s RBI single.

Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth and got Jung to hit into a game-ending double play for his third save this postseason.

Kyle Schwarber hit a pair of home runs to back Aaron Nola’s stellar start and the Philadelphia Phillies rolled to a 10-0 rout of the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday for a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Trea Turner also went deep and J. T. Realmuto drove in three runs to help the Phillies improve to 7-1 in these playoffs, including 6-0 at home.

Philadelphia will try to move closer to a second straight World Series appearance when the series shifts to Arizona for Game 3 on Thursday.

Nola gave up three hits over six innings without a walk and struck out seven. He is 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA in three playoff starts this season.

Turner’s one-out home run in the first off Merrill Kelly got Philadelphia started and Schwarber extended the lead in the third with his first blast of the night.

The Phillies tacked on four runs in the sixth and knocked out Kelly.

Schwarber led off with another home run and Turner walked before Kelly got the next two outs. Joe Mantiply relieved and surrendered Bryson Stott’s single and Realmuto followed with a two-run double into the gap in left-centre.

Brandon Marsh then doubled home Realmuto for a 6-0 advantage.

Alec Bohm had a two-run double, Realmuto singled home another run and Nick Castellanos added a sacrifice fly in Philadelphia’s four-run seventh.

The Phillies have hit .315 with 28 runs and 15 homers in the past four games.

Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos all homered to stake the Philadelphia Phillies to an early lead, and the defending National League champions held on for a 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Monday's Game 1 of the NL Championship Series.

The three solo homers helped back a solid six-inning start from Zack Wheeler as the Phillies handed the surprising Diamondbacks their first loss of this year's post-season. Arizona began the playoffs with five straight wins, including a three-game sweep of the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the previous round.

Harper added an RBI single on his 31st birthday to help provide Philadelphia a 5-0 lead as Wheeler held Arizona to just one hit through the first five innings.

Schwarber started the power surge by leading off the bottom of the first inning with his first homer of this postseason, and Harper made it 2-0 two batters later with his fourth homer in his last five games.

Castellanos, who homered twice in each of the final two games of Philadelphia's division series win over the Atlanta Braves, went deep again an inning afterward to pad the lead.

All three long balls came off Diamondbacks ace Zac Gallen, who surrendered all five Philadelphia runs and eight hits over five innings.

The Phillies increased the margin when Trea Turner doubled in the third and scored on Harper's single, and the lead grew to 5-0 when Harper walked in the fifth and later came home on J.T. Realmuto's two-out single.

Wheeler, meanwhile, retired 15 straight Arizona hitters after permitting a single to Corbin Carroll to open the game. That streak ended when Evan Longoria led off the sixth with a single and Geraldo Perdomo followed with a two-run homer to get the Diamondbacks on the board.

The Phillies ace finished with eight strikeouts and yielded just three hits along with the two runs.

Seranthony Dominguez relieved Wheeler in the seventh and committed an error that led to an unearned run which brought Arizona within 5-3, but Jose Alvarado and Craig Kimbrel held the Diamondbacks scoreless over the final 2 1/3 innings.

Game 2 will take place Tuesday in Philadelphia, with the Phillies sending out Aaron Nola and Merrill Kelly getting the call for the Diamondbacks.


The Texas Rangers scored four first-inning runs before holding on for their seventh straight win to start this year's post-season, a 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros on Monday that gave them a 2-0 lead in the American League Championship Series.

Texas withstood two more home runs from Houston slugger Yordan Alvarez to move to 7-0 in these playoffs, one shy of a Major League record for the longest winning streak to begin a post-season set by the Kansas City Royals in 2014. Six of those victories have come on the road.

The Rangers can put the reigning World Series champion Astros within a game of elimination when they return home for Wednesday's Game 3 of this best-of-seven series. Texas will start Max Scherzer in the three-time Cy Young Award winner's first appearance since straining his shoulder in mid-September.

Scherzer will try to build off Monday's solid performance from teammate Nathan Eovaldi, who struck out nine while allowing three runs over six innings and worked his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the fifth.

The Rangers gave Eovaldi a big early lead as their first five hitters reached base off Houston's Framber Valdez.

Marcus Semien and Corey Seager began the game with singles before Valdez threw wildly to first on a chopper to the mound off the bat of Robbie Grossman, allowing Semien to score the game's first run. Adolis Garcia and Mitch Garver followed with RBI singles and Nathaniel Lowe later plated Garcia with a base hit to push Texas' lead to 4-0.

The Astros got a run back in the second on Alvarez's first homer of the game, but Jonah Heim countered with a solo shot of his own in the third to restore the Rangers' four-run advantage.

Houston pulled within 5-2 on Alex Bregman's home run off the left-field foul pole in the fourth, then loaded the bases with no out in the fifth on two singles and an error. Eovaldi got through unscathed, however, by striking out Yainer Diaz and Jose Altuve and getting Bregman to ground out. 

Alvarez walked and scored on Michael Brantley's double in the sixth to cut Houston's deficit to two, then connected off Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the eighth for his sixth homer of the post-season as Texas' lead dwindled to 5-4.

Jose Leclerc then relieved Chapman and walked Jose Abreu and Brantley, but prevented further damage before retiring the Astros in order in the ninth for his second save of the series.

Valdez struck out six in just 2 2/3 innings, but permitted seven hits and all five Texas runs - four of which were earned. 

Houston, which won six of seven road meetings with the Rangers during the regular season, is scheduled to start Cristian Javier in Game 3. 


Five sports – cricket, squash, baseball/softball, lacrosse and flag football – will either be making their Olympic debut or returning to the programme at the Los Angeles 2028 Games.

The proposal was approved at the International Olympic Committee Session in Mumbai on Monday, with only two delegates voting against the new events.

Here, the PA news agency looks at all of the confirmed additions and picks out a few current British standouts in each.


Cricket returns to the Games for the first time in 128 years in the form of six-team men’s and women’s T20 tournaments. It last featured as a men’s-only competition for the Paris Olympic Games in 1900, which means Great Britain’s men will somewhat be going into the competition as defending champions, while the sport’s inclusion is also hailed as a brilliant showcase for the exponentially-growing women’s game.

Leading lights: Sophie Ecclestone/Sam Curran


Squash, one of the sports debuting at LA 2028, has been overlooked by the IOC at the past three Games, and the squash community reacted with incredulity at being ignored in favour of breakdancing for Paris 2024. Monday’s announcement will be welcome news for Great Britain, with three English players currently within the men’s and women’s world top-10 rankings, boasting world and Commonwealth titles between them.

Leading Lights: Mohamed ElShorbagy/Georgina Kennedy


Great Britain’s baseball and fastpitch softball teams have never been in a better position to qualify for an Olympic Games. Not only did the men’s baseball team qualify for and play in a maiden World Baseball Classic – a bit like the sport’s World Cup this year – they also won a game and did enough to qualify for the next edition, following that up with a third-ever European silver medal in September.

GB’s softball team were one win away from making the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – where the sports last featured – and are currently ranked 12th in the latest WBSC World Rankings. They beat a tough challenger in world number three Chinese Taipei earlier this year and, like their baseball counterparts, hold the European silver medal with promising talent in the pipeline.

Leading Lights: Harry Ford/Georgina Corrick


Like cricket, lacrosse is preparing for its return to the Olympics for the first time in over a century, having last been included on the programme at St Louis 1904 and London 1908. Sixes, the format premiering in Los Angeles, has been described by World Lacrosse as a “fast-paced and compact” version of the game sometimes likened to The Hundred in cricket. Great Britain narrowly missed the podium at the 2022 World Games, placing fourth in both the men’s and women’s competitions, but could certainly be contenders in LA.

Leading lights: Tom Bracegirdle/Claire Faram

Flag Football

Flag football, a variant of American football, will also make its Olympic debut in just under five years’ time. Unlike the NFL, flag is a pacey non-contact sport where tackles are made by pulling flags off players’ hips. Great Britain’s women are ranked 20th in the world and are the reigning European champions, while the NFL this year launched its first girls’ flag league as part of ambitions to grow the game in the UK.

Leading lights: Brittany Botterill/Charlie Williams

Cricket, squash, baseball/softball, lacrosse and flag football will all be included in the Olympic programme at the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

The proposal was approved at the IOC Session in Mumbai on Monday, with only two delegates voting against the new events.

Cricket returns to the Games for the first time in 128 years in the form of six-team men’s and women’s T20 tournaments, lacrosse for the first time as a medal sport since 1908 while baseball has featured at the Olympics several times.

Flag football, a non-contact format of American football, and squash are included for the first time.

Jordan Montgomery outpitched Justin Verlander with 6 1/3 shutout innings as the Texas Rangers took Game 1 of the American League Championship Series with Sunday's 2-0 win over the rival Houston Astros.

Leody Tavares backed Montgomery with a solo homer off Verlander as the red-hot Rangers improved to 6-0 during these playoffs after ending the regular season with an 18-24 finish.

That late slump enabled the defending World Series champion Astros to overtake Texas for the AL West title and home-field advantage for the series. Houston also won nine of 13 meetings with its fellow Lone Star State inhabitants during the regular season.

The Rangers got to Verlander in the second inning to take an early lead, as rookie Evan Carter legged out a double and crossed the plate on Jonah Heim's single. Tavares made it 2-0 by taking Verlander's offering over the right-field wall with one out in the fifth. 

Houston had its chances in between as it put two on in the third and loaded the bases in the fourth. Montgomery fanned All-Star slugger Yordan Alvarez to end the first threat, then struck out Martin Maldonado to put out the second after the Astros strung together three consecutive two-out singles.

The Astros didn't have another runner reach base off the left-hander, who retired the final eight hitters he faced while scattering five hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Three of those strikeouts came against Alvarez, who had gone 7 for 16 with four home runs in Houston's four-game dispatching of the Minnesota Twins in the Division Series.

A base-running blunder by Jose Altuve in the eighth ended the Astros' final good chance of the night.

Altuve drew a leadoff walk off Josh Sborz to prompt Rangers manager to summon reliever Aroldis Chapman, who was greeted by Alex Bregman's deep fly to left that was caught by Carter at the warning track. Altuve rounded second base on the play, but was called out after a replay review showed he failed to re-touch the bag while racing back to first.

Chapman finished off the inning without further damage before Jose Leclerc retired the Astros in order in the ninth.

Verlander lasted 6 2/3 innings and allowed six hits along with both Texas runs.

Game 2 of the series will take place Monday afternoon in Houston, which will send Framber Valdez to the mound opposite Nathan Eovaldi in a matchup of 2023 All-Stars. 

Nick Castellanos hit a pair of home runs for the second straight game and Trea Turner also went deep as the Philadelphia Phillies held off the 104-win Atlanta Braves 3-1 on Thursday to book a return trip to the NL Championship Series.

The Phillies eliminated the Braves for the second straight season and will next face surprising Arizona, which is 5-0 in these playoffs after sweeping the Dodgers.

Castellanos continued his power stroke after he hit two of the Phillies’ six home runs in Wednesday’s win, belting solo shots off 20-game winner Spencer Strider in the fourth and sixth innings.

He became the first player to hit multiple homers in consecutive playoff games.

Turner went 4 for 4 and fell a triple shy of the cycle, with his blast in the fifth giving Philadelphia a 2-1 lead.

The teams with the five best regular-season records – Atlanta, Baltimore, Dodgers, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee – all failed to reach the LCS.

Ranger Suarez allowed one run and three hits over five innings before five Philadelphia relievers limited the Braves to two hits over the final four innings.

Seranthony Dominguez got the first two outs in the sixth and Jose Alvarado worked around two walks to pitch a scoreless inning.

He got help from center fielder Johan Rojas, who tracked down Ronald Acuna Jr.’s drive to the wall in left centre with the bases loaded to end the seventh.

Gregory Soto got the final out of the eighth but walked Marcell Ozuna to open the ninth and gave up Sean Murphy’s single to put runners on the corners.

But Matt Strahm retired the next three batters, including a game-ending strikeout on pinch-hitter Vaughn Grissom.

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