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MLB Playoffs

Altuve, Astros going back to ALCS after routing White Sox

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CHICAGO — It was Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman once again.

The Houston Astros are going to the AL Championship Series for the fifth straight year. Their October-tested stars led the way.

Altuve hit a three-run homer and scored four times, and Houston eliminated the Chicago White Sox with a 10-1 victory in Game 4 of their AL Division Series on Tuesday.

“We don’t get tired of this moment,” Correa said. “They’re special, and we perform our best when October comes.”

Correa and Bregman each hit a two-run double as the Astros bounced back from Sunday night’s 12-6 loss with their usual relentless brand of baseball. Michael Brantley had three hits and two RBIs.

Next up for Altuve and company is Game 1 of the ALCS against former Astros bench coach Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox on Friday in Houston. The Red Sox eliminated Tampa Bay with a 6-5 victory in Game 4 on Monday night.

“We’re playing another good team,” Altuve said.

It’s Houston’s second ALCS under 72-year-old manager Dusty Baker, whose club got the best of 77-year-old Chicago skipper Tony La Russa. Baker replaced A.J. Hinch, who was fired in the fallout from the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal that also resulted in a one-year ban for Cora.

A testy La Russa argued with umpire Tom Hallion after he felt Houston reliever Kendall Graveman hit reigning AL MVP José Abreu intentionally with two out in the eighth. Abreu was plunked 22 times during the regular season.

“There is a character choice there that they should answer for,” La Russa said. “Stupid, too.

Braves move on

ATLANTA — Freddie Freeman homered off Milwaukee closer Josh Hader with two outs in the eighth inning and the Atlanta Braves advanced to the NL Championship Series for the second year in a row, finishing off the Milwaukee Brewers 5-4 on Tuesday night.

The Braves won the best-of-five Division Series three games to one, advancing to face either the 107-win San Francisco Giants or the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers with a trip to the World Series on the line.

The game was tied at 4 when the Brewers brought on Hader to make sure it stayed that way. The hard-throwing lefty struck out Eddie Rosario and Dansby Swanson, but he couldn’t get past the 2020 NL MVP.

Freeman caught up with an 84-mph slider, launching a 428-foot drive into the seats in left-center — only the fourth homer all season off Hader.

Freeman celebrated wildly on his way around the bases, and popped back out of the dugout for a curtain call as the crowd of 40,195 roared.

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