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Astros, Dodgers advance in MLB playoffs

Defending champion Houston and their rivals who lost last year's World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers, each advanced in the Major League Baseball playoffs with lopsided road triumphs Monday.
George Springer smashed two solo home runs as the Astros routed the Cleveland Indians 11-3 while Manny Machado belted a three-run homer and a run-scoring double to power the Dodgers past the Atlanta Braves 6-2.
Houston completed a sweep of Cleveland in the best-of-five American League division series, holding the Tribe to six runs on 13 hits over three games.
"It's awesome, a great day for us as a team," Springer said. "I'm happy to be heading home."
The Astros will face either the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series with the winner advancing to the World Series.
The Astros outlasted the Dodgers in a seventh-game showdown to win last year's World Series for their first championship and could yet face a rematch with Los Angeles.
The Dodgers eliminated the Braves in four games to book a National League Championship date with the Milwaukee Brewers to decide the other World Series berth.
Springer's solo homers in the fifth and eighth innings gave him eight homers in nine playoff games in a streak dating to last year's title run, matching a major league playoff record shared by Reggie Jackson, Jim Thome and Carlos Beltran, who did it most recently in 2004.
"Personal results don't mean anything now. It's all about how can I help us win," said Springer. "It's about having fun and doing whatever it takes for us to win."
Houston seized the lead for good with three runs in the seventh inning, the uprising starting when Tony Kemp singled, took second on a throwing error, reached third on a Springer single and scored when Jose Altuve hit into a fielder's choice to pull the visitors level at 2-2.
After that, Alex Bregman reached base on an error and Yuli Gurriel walked to set up a two-run double to left field by Marwin Gonzalez to put the Astros ahead 4-2.
Springer's solo blast began a six-run eighth inning for Houston, which also included a three-run homer by Carlos Correa. Each team scored once in the ninth to produce the final victory margin.
Cleveland's Michael Brantley drove in Yan Gomes with a sacrifice fly out to open the scoring in the third inning.
Springer blasted a solo homer in the fifth inning to equalize but the Indians regained the lead on a solo homer by Francisco Lindor in the bottom half of the frame.
In Atlanta, the Dodgers took the lead in the first inning on Machado's run-scoring double.
The Braves answered in the fourth on a two-run single to left field by pinch-hitter Kurt Suzuki.
But Los Angeles reclaimed the lead in the sixth when pinch-hitter David Freese, the 2011 World Series Most Valuable Player with the champion St. Louis Cardinals, smacked a two-run single to centerfield, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 edge.
Machado blasted his three-run homer over the left-field wall off Braves relief pitcher Chad Sobotka in the seventh for a 6-2 LA lead.
Dodgers reliever Kenta Maeda shut down a rally bid from Atlanta in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen got the final outs for Los Angeles in the ninth.


© 2018 AFP
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