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BASE­BALL — The Hous­ton Astros re­fused to go qui­etly, down­ing the Tampa Bay Rays 7-4 Fri­day to force a de­ci­sive game seven in Ma­jor League Base­ball’s Amer­i­can League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries.

Af­ter drop­ping the first three games of the se­ries in San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia, the Astros have won three straight to keep their bid for a World Se­ries berth alive. “We’re re­lent­less,” Astros short­stop Car­los Cor­rea said. “We said we didn’t want to go home and we meant it.” Hous­ton — who have played the vil­lain this pan­demic-dis­rupted sea­son af­ter rev­e­la­tions of a sign-steal­ing scan­dal tainted their 2017 World Se­ries vic­tory — are just the sec­ond team to ad­vance to a game seven af­ter trail­ing 3-0 in a se­ries. The Bos­ton Red Sox did it in the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yan­kees — and won game seven on the way to the Ma­jor League Base­ball crown.

The win­ner of the se­ries will play ei­ther the At­lanta Braves or Los An­ge­les Dodgers in the World Se­ries.

The Braves took a 3-1 lead into game five of the Na­tional League Cham­pi­onship Se­ries and had a chance to close it out against the Dodgers in Ar­ling­ton, Texas, later Fri­day.

000 FOOT­BALL — Cris­tiano Ron­aldo shot back at Italy’s sports min­is­ter on Fri­day by deny­ing that he broke the coron­avirus pro­to­col adopted for the coun­try’s foot­ball af­ter re­turn­ing from in­ter­na­tional duty while pos­i­tive for the dis­ease. Ju­ven­tus for­ward Ron­aldo is cur­rently quar­an­tined at his home in Turin af­ter trav­el­ing from Por­tu­gal in an air am­bu­lance fol­low­ing a pos­i­tive COVID-19 test while with his na­tional team for Na­tions League matches.

“I never broke the pro­to­col,” Ron­aldo said on In­sta­gram, adding that he trav­elled af­ter gain­ing au­tho­riza­tion to do so and had avoided con­tact with other peo­ple. “Some­one, whose name I’m won’t say, here in Italy ... says that I didn’t re­spect the pro­to­col, that is sim­ply a lie.

“I am con­tin­u­ing my quar­an­tine, I am alone, my fam­ily is on an­other floor, we can’t be in con­tact and it will be like that at least for the next 10 days.”

Min­is­ter of Sport Vin­cenzo Spadafora said on Thurs­day that he thought the Por­tu­gal cap­tain Ron­aldo had bro­ken pro­to­col by leav­ing Italy while Ju­ven­tus were in iso­la­tion fol­low­ing two COVID-19 cases among the team’s non-play­ing staff.

On Fri­day he claimed “ar­ro­gant” Ron­aldo had lied and stressed that his com­ments re­ferred specif­i­cally to his and some of his team­mates’ leav­ing to join their re­spec­tive na­tional teams.

“The fame and great­ness of cer­tain foot­ballers doesn’t al­low them to be ar­ro­gant, dis­re­spect­ful to­wards our in­sti­tu­tions and to lie,” Spadafora told Italy’s ANSA news agency.

“I re­it­er­ate what I said yes­ter­day re­gard­ing some Ju­ven­tus play­ers aban­don­ing their team ho­tel, com­ments which I based on Ju­ven­tus’ own com­mu­ni­ca­tions with health au­thor­i­ties in Turin.”

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