Javier, bullpen combine on no-hitter as Astros tie Series

PHILADELPHIA — The Houston Astros completed the first combined no-hitter in postseason history on Wednesday night, riding six scoreless innings from Cristian Javier and another three from a trio of relievers in an emphatic 5-0 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 4 of the World Series.

The win tied the Series at two games apiece and placed Javier in exceedingly rare company, joining former New York Yankees right-hander Don Larsen — author of a perfect game in 1956 — as the only pitchers in World Series history to finish an outing with no hits allowed in six or more innings.

Javier’s start was a reenactment of the combined no-hitter he played a key role in against the Yankees on June 25, making Javier the first pitcher to start multiple combined no-hitters within a career, let alone the same season. On that Saturday afternoon from Yankee Stadium, Javier exited after throwing 115 pitches and recording 21 outs. A little more than four months later, the 25-year-old right-hander was pulled after recording 18 outs and throwing 97 pitches.

Both times, he turned the game over to a dominant collection of relievers.

On Wednesday, Bryan Abreu took the ball in the seventh inning and struck out the side despite facing the heart of the Phillies’ order. Rafael Montero took over in the eighth and retired all three batters, the last on a Jean Segura line drive hit directly at Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker. Astros closer Ryan Pressly finished it off in the ninth, just like he did in late June, this time he worked around a walk to record three outs on a Brandon Marsh strikeout, a Rhys Hoskins flyout and, lastly, a J.T. Realmuto groundout.

“I tried to stay attacking the strike zone, tried to pitch as deep as possible into the game,” Javier said in his postgame, on-field interview through a translator. “And we were able to get a good result today.”

There have been 18 combined no-hitters throughout major league history, but none have come particularly close to occurring in the postseason. The only other one that extended through seven innings was done by the Atlanta Braves, against these Astros, in Game 3 of last year’s World Series.

Javier, one of the most underappreciated starting pitchers in the sport, rode his deceptive fastball to strike out nine batters and issue just two walks through the first six innings. At the start of the fourth, he began a stretch of five consecutive strikeouts. In the sixth, the pitcher with the lowest groundball rate in the majors during the regular season benefitted from three consecutive groundouts. At that point, Javier became the first pitcher to reach six no-hit innings in the World Series since Jerry Koosman in 1969.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said in his postgame, on-field interview, referring to Javier’s performance. “The sky is the limit for that young man.”

The Astros scored all five of their runs in the fifth, loading the bases with none out against Aaron Nola before lefty reliever Jose Alvarado plunked Yordan Alvarez with a fastball, then gave up a two-run double to Alex Bregman, a sacrifice fly to Tucker and a run-scoring single to Yuli Gurriel.

“We play for this and to make it that special, even better,” Houston catcher Christian Vazquez said during his on-field, postgame interview. “It was special, everyone did a great job and we’re happy to split the series and finish [at] home.”

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