Astros shortstop Carlos Correa celebrates after hitting a two-run double against the Chicago White Sox in Houston’s 9-4 win in Game 2 of the ALDS on Friday in Houston. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

HOUSTON — Carlos Correa was aggressive at the plate. Same for Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker. Jose Altuve turned in a couple of gems in the field.

The Houston Astros are relentless – especially 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.

“They’ve been here before and they’ve experienced it,” Houston Manager Dusty Baker said. “Belief is a big part of this game and belief will take you a long, long ways – and these guys as a unit, they believe.”

Sure looks that way.

Tucker homered and drove in three runs as the Astros moved within one win of their fifth straight appearance in the American League Championship Series. Alex Bregman had two hits and scored twice, and Altuve made a couple of big plays.

“I think experience plays a huge part of it,” Correa said. “The moment is never too big for the guys in that clubhouse.”

Game 3 of the best-of-five series is Sunday night in Chicago.

The Astros grabbed the lead for good on 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 past Leury García, who turned all the way around while trying to track down the ball.

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.

The versatile García had just moved from second base to right, replacing Adam Engel.

“They’re really good, but I thought we played really well, too,” White Sox Manager Tony La Russa said. “But they played better – just enough.”

Tucker then punctuated the inning with a two-run shot into the seats in left, lifting Houston to a 9-4 lead.

The Astros got 10 hits for the second straight day, but their defense stole the show.

Altuve led the way. He made a diving grab to take a hit away Andrew Vaughn in the sixth. He wowed again when he fielded a sharp grounder from Eloy Jiménez and got the throw to first base in time for the first out of the eighth.

Gurriel got the first two outs of the fourth when the first baseman turned an unassisted double play, and Tucker dashed to grab a fly ball hit by Yasmani Grandal with runners on first and second in the seventh.

“Defense is something that we work on before we even hit,” Baker said. “These guys take pride in defense. And so that’s something I think is overlooked by a lot of clubs, but never on my clubs.”

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 1/3 innings.

The White Sox grabbed a 4-2 lead with three runs in the fifth. Luis Robert and José Abreu each hit an RBI single, and Grandal added a sacrifice fly.

But the Astros tied it in the bottom half on 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.

“Our backs are against the wall right now,” shortstop Tim Anderson said. “We know what we need to do, we’ve got to take care of business. Things will get better. It’s good to head back home, for sure.”

Robert and 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 allowed 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 four-hit 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: 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, in Milwaukee.

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 Narváez – 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 Avisaíl García 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.

NOTES

TELEVISION: MLB Network broadcaster Jim Kaat apologized during Friday’s AL Division Series game between the Astros and White Sox after saying teams should try to “get a 40-acre field full of” players who look like Chicago infielder Yoán Moncada.

Kaat, a former All-Star pitcher and longtime commentator for the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, made the remark in the first inning of Game 2 in response to a comment from broadcaster Buck Showalter about Moncada, who is Cuban.

“After the first time I saw him in the big leagues, I looked around the dugout, like, ‘Do we have one of those?’” said Showalter, who opposed Moncada while managing the Baltimore Orioles.

Kaat replied: “Get a 40-acre field full of them,” a remark that reminded some viewers of the unfilled promise by the U.S. government that freed slaves would receive 40 acres and a mule following the Civil War.

The 82-year-old Kaat apologized during the fifth inning.

“Earlier in the game when Yoán Moncada was at the plate, in an attempt to compliment the great player that he is, I used a poor choice of words that resulted in an insensitive and hurtful remark,” he said. “And I’m sorry for that.”


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