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Astros going back to ALCS after routing White Sox

The Associated Press

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 leading 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’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.

“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 Jose 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.

“I’ll be interested to see if they admit it. If they don’t admit it, then they’re very dishonest.”

Baker, who has sparred with La Russa in the past, said his team did not throw at Abreu intentionally.

“There was no reason for us to hit Abreu,” Baker said. “He hadn’t done anything to us.”

Gavin Sheets connected for Chicago, becoming the third rookie in franchise history to homer in a postseason game. But Carlos Rodon was knocked out in the third inning of his first start since Sept. 29, and the AL Central champions left eight runners on base.

The White Sox also lost in the first round of the 2020 playoffs, dropping two of three in Oakland. Before this year, the franchise had never made consecutive postseason appearances.

“It was a fun ride. Ended a little short,” Rodon said.

The Astros are looking for the franchise’s second championship after winning it all in 2017, a title that still evokes a strong reaction around the game after the team was punished for using electronics to steal signs.

The crowd at Guaranteed Rate Field chanted “Cheater! Cheater!” at times during the two games in Chicago, and White Sox reliever Ryan Tepera implied late Sunday night that Houston may have been stealing signs in Games 1 and 2.

But the Astros, used to dealing with boos since fans returned to the stands this season, brushed it all off.

“We’ve been constantly bombarded by negatives, especially on the road,” Baker said. “But these guys, they come to play and they love each other.”

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