Bloopers and bleeders did Charlie Morton in as sloppy Astros allow Yankees to get back into series
Houston's Jose Altuve bobbles a ball hit by New York's Chase Headley in fourth inning action. AP

NEW YORK — Cameron Maybin sprinted toward the left-field line and suddenly stopped, with plenty of room to spare.

As he wind-milled one arm to halt his momentum, a flummoxed Maybin curiously backed off the ball and watched Greg Bird's pop fly land in fair territory just a step or two away for a ground-rule double that started a five-run rally.

All night long, Maybin and the Houston Astros looked completely out of sorts at Yankee Stadium.

Bloopers, bleeders and infield singles did in starter Charlie Morton — not to mention a pair of three-run homers that barely cleared the fence. And after executing so impeccably back home, the Astros were routed 8-1 by the New York Yankees on Monday night (Tuesday, Manila time) in a lopsided defeat that shaved Houston's lead to 2-1 in the AL Championship Series.

Game Four is on Tuesday in the Bronx, and Houston manager A.J. Hinch picked Lance McCullers Jr. over Brad Peacock to pitch against Yankees right-hander Sonny Gray.

Peacock went 13-2 with a 3.00 ERA this season but lasted only 2 2/3 innings at Boston in Game 3 of the Division Series. McCullers, an All-Star in July, hasn't started since Sept. 30 and hasn't won since June 24. He was sidelined from July 31 to Sept. 6, his second stint on the disabled list this year due to lower back discomfort, but made his first career relief appearance against the Red Sox in the playoff game Peacock started.

So if the Astros don't want to squander the 2-0 series advantage they built in Houston behind 2-1 wins by aces Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander, they'll need to get comfortable again pretty quickly in the Big Apple.

Two wins from its second World Series appearance, Houston hasn't dropped consecutive games since Sept. 9-10 at Oakland.

Morton grew up a Yankees fan in Connecticut and on Sunday fondly recalled visiting the old Stadium across 161st Street and getting Joe Girardi's autograph at spring training when the New York manager was still playing.


But in his third career playoff start, the 33-year-old righty found the current confines entirely unfriendly.

Starlin Castro got New York started with a two-out roller toward third that went for an infield single in the second. Aaron Hicks dumped a soft single into left-center and Todd Frazier took an awkward swing on a three-run homer to the short porch in right.

The drive only traveled a projected 365 feet and might have been aided by the wind.

Bird blooped his double to begin the fourth and, two outs later, scored on Chase Headley's bouncer into a vacated spot at second base. The infield single made it 4-0, and Morton was removed after hitting Brett Gardner with a pitch to load the bases.

"Charlie had a lot of bad luck tonight," Hinch said.

Will Harris threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score, and Aaron Judge lined a three-run homer 371 feet into the front row of left-field seats to make it 8-0.

And with that, this one was over early.


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