Astros take 2-0 lead over White Sox
HOUSTON — Carlos Correa and the Houston Astros are relentless at the plate and in the field.
That’s why they are so tough to beat in the playoffs.
Correa hit a two-run double during Houston’s five-run seventh inning, and the Astros beat the Chicago White Sox 9-4 on Friday for a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.
Kyle Tucker homered and drove in three runs as the Astros moved within one win of their fifth straight appearance in the AL Championship Series. Alex Bregman had two hits and scored twice, and Jose Altuve made a couple of big plays.
Game 3 of the best-of-five series is Sunday night in Chicago.
The Astros grabbed the lead for good on Yordan Alvarez’s tiebreaking RBI single off Aaron Bummer (0-1) with one out in the seventh. Craig Kimbrel then took over and retired Yuli Gurriel before Correa’s drive to right sailed just past a sprinting Leury Garcia.
Correa screamed and gestured to the crowd to yell with him as he reached second. The star shortstop is eligible for free agency after this season, and it’s going to be quite costly for the AL West champion Astros to keep him.
Tucker then punctuated the inning with a two-run shot into the seats in left, lifting Houston to a 9-4 lead.
The Astros rolled to a 6-1 win in Game 1 behind a splendid start by Lance McCullers Jr. Framber Valdez struggled in Game 2, allowing four runs and seven hits in 4 innings.
The White Sox grabbed a 4-2 lead with three runs in the fifth. Luis Robert and Jose Abreu each hit an RBI single, and Yasmani Grandal added a sacrifice fly.
But the Astros tied it in the bottom half on Yuli Gurriel’s two-run single. It was the first hit of the series for the AL batting champion.
The loss drops the AL Central champion White Sox to 0-6 in Houston this season. They are trying to avoid another early postseason exit after they were eliminated by Oakland in the first round last year.
Robert and Tim Anderson had three hits apiece. Abreu, who had been slowed by flu-like symptoms, had two hits and drove in a run.
White Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito permitted four runs and three hits in 4 1/3 innings. He tied a season high with five walks in his second career playoff start.
Giolito threw complete games in his previous two starts against the Astros, including a three-hitter in a 10-1 victory on July 17.
Houston’s bullpen shut down the White Sox after the early exit by Valdez, with five relievers combining for 4 2/3 innings of fourhit ball. Ryne Stanek (1-0) worked the seventh for the win.
Alvarez, who homered and drove in two runs in Game 1, has been great for the Astros in his return to the postseason. The 2019 AL Rookie of the Year returned this season after being relegated to watching the team’s playoff run on television last year after having surgery on both knees.
BREWERS 2, BRAVES 1
MILWAUKEE — Rowdy Tellez spoiled Charlie Morton’s gem with a two-run homer in the seventh inning and threw out a runner at home plate, leading Milwaukee over Atlanta in the opener of their NL Division Series.
Corbin Burnes, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader combined on a four-hitter that gave Milwaukee the early lead in this best-of-five series. Game 2 is Saturday in Milwaukee.
Former Brewer Orlando Arcia grounded to second with runners on the corners to end the game. That came after Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez — who combined with first baseman Tellez on a key first-inning double play — blocked Hader’s 1-2 pitch in the dirt to keep Freddie Freeman at third base.
Neither team produced much offense until the Brewers finally broke through in the seventh.
After Charlie Morton (0-1) hit Avisail Garcia with a 1-2 pitch to start the inning, Tellez ripped another 1-2 offering from Morton over the center-field wall to break a scoreless tie. The hefty, bearded slugger had gone 1 of 13 against the Braves this season until delivering that 411-foot drive.
Tellez was activated from the injured list Saturday after missing about three weeks with a right patella strain.
Atlanta’s Joc Pederson lofted a pinch-hit homer off Houser (1-0) with two outs in the eighth.