Five-run inning fuels Astros in win over White Sox

Los Angeles (AFP) –

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The Houston Astros erupted for five runs in the seventh inning on the way to a 9-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox that put them one win away from advancing in the Major League Baseball playoffs on Friday.

The outburst included a two-run double from Carlos Correa and a two-run homer from Kyle Tucker that saw the Astros break a 4-4 deadlock.

They took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League division series and can wrap up a spot in the AL Championship series with a victory in Chicago on Sunday.

"Obviously you feel great going to Chicago with a two-game lead, but at the same time we've got to take care of business," Correa said. "It's not 100%."

Three of the first four Astros batters singled against White Sox relief pitcher Aaron Bummer in the seventh, Yordan Alvarez driving in a run that put Houston up 5-4.

The Astros then leapt on reliever Craig Kimbrel. Correa lined a 3-1 double over the head of right fielder Leury Garcia to score two runs before Tucker's home run sent fans at Minute Maid Park into a frenzy.

The game was one of four on Friday's slate. The Tampa Bay Rays were also seeking a 2-0 lead in their American League Series when they hosted the Boston Red Sox.

Both National League division series got underway with the Milwaukee Brewers hosting the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants hosting the Los Angeles Dodgers in what promised to be an instant post-season classic.

The reigning World Series champion Dodgers won 106 regular-season games but still had to get past the St. Louis Cardinals in a wild card playoff game to earn a shot at the Giants -- who edged them for the NL West division crown with 107 regular-season wins.

The series is the first ever in the post-season between the longtime rivals and matches the winningest clubs ever to meet in the playoffs.

The clubs have combined for four World Series titles and six league crowns since 2010.

"It's what baseball wants," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "And it's happening."

Roberts's Dodgers are trying to become the first team to repeat as World Series champions since the New York Yankees took three in a row from 1998-2000.