Cristian Javier and four relievers combined on a three-hitter and Chas McCormick homered after a misplay in the field by New York to put the Astros on the verge of their fourth World Series appearance in the last six years.
"We're not going to come out any slower than we did today", McCormick said. "We're going to be ready to play tomorrow and go for the sweep."
Houston players responded to the homer with exaggerated clapping, arms spread wide. The gesture appeared to be initiated by Astros fan Scott Agruso, who attends games at Minute Maid Park wearing an alligator suit.
History is not on the Yankees side. Of the 39 teams to trail a postseason series, 30 have completed the sweep.
Making his first start since October 1st, Javier held New York to just one hit over 5 1/3 innings, striking out five and walking three.
Gerrit Cole gave up five runs pitching into the sixth and appeared agitated when manager Aaron Boone came out to remove him.
"About as frustrated as you can get", he said.
Aaron Judge went hitless in four at-bats and is now hitting .156 with 14 strikeouts and just three RBI's, including one for 12 against the Astros.
"Obviously, he's the biggest force and key in our lineup, so we need to get something from him", Boone said.
New York is hitting .128 in the ALCS with 41 strikeouts and has lost eight of 10 to Houston this year, throwing just 13 pitches with a lead.
"I understand why there's boos and yelling at times", Judge said. "We've got to pick it up as a team."
Astros continue mastery of Yankees, one win from AL pennant
Cristian Vazquez hit a fly ball that Harrison Bader had fall out of his glove for an error.
"It's a loud atmosphere. ...Calling it until the very end and we both got a little spooked, he said. "He's like nine feet tall, so you don't want anyone to get hurt."
"At the last second I hear him. I'm trying to get out of the way", the right fielder said. "I definitely messed him up on that play."
McCormack came up and drove a fastball 335 feet to right field with the ball bouncing on top of the wall and over the fence.
"It was a couple more inches over the plate than we wanted to and obviously the bounce went his way", Cole said.
"That's what the game's about", said Astros manager Dusty Baker. "Even though it may not be, you have to kind of fool yourself that it is a break. And it's amazing whatever you think can happen usually does happen. That was huge."
After walking to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Bader was caught stealing by a perfect throw from Vazquez.
"We shut down the momentum from them", Vazquez said. "It was awesome".
Cole was chased in the sixth inning after loading the bases. Lou Trivino came out of the bullpen and gave up a sacrifice fly to Trey Mancini and Vazquez singled home two more with all five runs charged to Cole.
Hector Neris, Ryan Stanek, Hunter Brown and Rafael Montero pitched four innings of hitless ball and Bryan Abreu finished things up in the ninth.
McCullers looks to send Houston to World Series; Cortes tries to keep New York alive
Lance McCullers Jr. tries to close things out for the Astros after his start was pushed back one day to allow his bruised elbow an extra day of rest. He threw six scoreless innings in the clinching Game 3 of the ALDS.
Nestor Cortes hopes to extend the series to a Game 5 after defeating Cleveland in the deciding game of the ALDS on short rest.