Springer blasts pair of home runs as Astros down A's to move within win of ALCS

George Springer hit two homers and the Houston Astros kept making more noise in the playoffs, beating the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.

Rays even series with Yankees; Atlanta powers past Miami to take NLDS lead

Houston's George Springer, right, and Carlos Correa, left, celebrate the Astros' 5-2 win against the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday. (Harry How/Getty Images)

George Springer hit two homers and the Houston Astros kept making more noise in the playoffs, beating the Oakland Athletics 5-2 on Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.

Martin Maldonado also went deep for Houston, which needs one win to reach its fourth straight AL Championship Series. Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Wednesday, when Houston is the home team in the neutral site matchup.

Springer put Houston ahead to stay with a two-run, two-out drive in the third on a second straight 90-degree day at Dodger Stadium.

Maldonado's solo shot in the fifth chased loser Sean Manaea in his first appearance of this post-season. Yusmeiro Petit came in and promptly gave up Springer's second homer of the game, extending Houston's lead to 5-2. Maldonado yelled and raised his right arm in celebration from his seat in the dugout.

Springer's 17 post-season homers tied Nelson Cruz and Jim Thome for most through a player's first 54 career post-season games. Five of Springer's post-season homers have come at Dodger Stadium, where the Astros beat the Dodgers in Game 7 of the 2017 World Series.

Houston improved to 7-3 in Dodger Stadium since that World Series. Current A's pitcher Mike Fiers last year told of his old team's sign-stealing scandal used in 2017, a revelation that rocked baseball and drew the still ongoing ire of other players and fans.

Hot, sunny and dry conditions again created an ideal environment for the long ball. The teams combined for five homers, raising the series total to 11.

Winner Framber Valdez allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings, struck out four and walked one. The 26-year-old left-hander, making his first post-season start, retired his final 10 batters.

Rays jump on Happ to beat Yankees

Randy Arozarena, Mike Zunino, Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows hit home runs, and Tyler Glasnow struck out 10 to set a post-season record for the Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the New York Yankees 7-4 Tuesday night to even their AL Division Series at one game apiece.

The Rays had enough pop to overcome a huge game by Giancarlo Stanton, who had two home runs and four RBIs. His impressive power display included a 458-foot, three-run homer that landed under the giant video board in left field at Petco Park. It was reminiscent of the mammoth shots he hit in winning the Home Run Derby here in 2016.

Stanton has three homers this series and five in four post-season games. His grand slam in the ninth inning Monday night was the Bronx Bombers' fourth homer in the 9-3 Game 1 win. The Yankees have 13 homers in five games.

Each team has hit six home runs in two games at the downtown ballpark, where the outfield once had the reputation as a place where fly balls went to die. The fences were moved in before the 2013 season.

Four Rays pitchers struck out 18, an MLB post-season record for a nine-inning game and a post-season record for Yankees batters.

DJ LeMahieu had hit an RBI single with two outs. in the ninth, and Pete Fairbanks retired Aaron Judge on a grounder with runners on the corners to end the game.

Game 3 in the best-of-5 series is Wednesday night. The Rays, who won the AL East at 40-20 and are the top seed, were the home team for the first two games while the Yankees will be the home team for the next two games.

Atlanta takes down Miami

Ronald Acuna Jr. made history with his leadoff homer, Travis d'Arnaud hit a tie-breaking shot in a huge seventh inning and Atlanta beat the Miami Marlins 9-5 Tuesday in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.

D'Arnaud also doubled and singled in driving in four runs and Dansby Swanson homered during a six-run seventh to help power Atlanta.

After shutting out Cincinnati for 22 innings during a two-game sweep in the wild-card round, the winners relied on their bats in this opener.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is on Wednesday in Houston.

Atlanta trailed 4-3 in the seventh before Austin Riley and Acuna hit consecutive singles with no outs to chase Miami starter Sandy Alcantara.

Yimi Garcia took over and Freddie Freeman grounded into a forceout that left runners at the corners. Marcell Ozuna lined a single to left that made it 4-all.

Then d'Arnaud, in his first season with Atlanta, belted a slider over the fence in centre field for a three-run drive that made it 7-4. The shot caused the Braves dugout to erupt with Acuna jumping over the railing to celebrate.

But Atlanta wasn't done yet.

James Hoyt replaced Garcia with one out and Swanson sent his first pitch off the wall in centre field for a two-run homer.

Acuna got things going for Atlanta in the bottom of the first when he sent Alcantara's second pitch into right-centre for a homer. He watched it for a second before flipping his bat and rounding the bases as he became the youngest player (22 years, 293 days old) in post-season history with a leadoff home run.

Atlanta, who has long dominated the Marlins in the NL East, improved to 3-0 this post-season after sweeping the Reds in the wild-card for their first playoff series win since 2001.

The Marlins overcame a coronavirus outbreak that sidelined more than half the team in July to make the playoffs for the first time since 2003 before sweeping their wild-card series against the Cubs.

And the scrappy Marlins, who lost 105 games in 2019, looked good early in this one, using a three-run third inning to take a 4-1 lead. But their offence stalled after that and Atlanta scored two in the third to get within one before putting Miami away with their home run barrage in the seventh.

Patient Dodgers take 1-0 lead over Padres

Hitless through five innings, the Los Angeles Dodgers put together a four-run rally in the sixth to earn a 5-1, come-from-behind victory against the San Diego Padres in the opening game of their National League Division Series at Arlington, Texas.

In the first-ever playoff game between the NL West rivals, runs were hard to come by until the Dodgers found their bats in the sixth inning. The first Los Angeles hit of the game came when Mookie Betts delivered a one-out double against Garrett Richards.

The Dodgers ended up with four hits and two walks in the rally, which also featured a run-scoring wild pitch.

"We didn't get a lot of hits early, but we took great at-bats and we made those guys work," said Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner, who had a single, two walks and two runs. "We took a lot of walks tonight. When our offense is at its best, we're walking as many times as we're getting hits. Did a great job of staying in the zone."

Padres manager Jayce Tingler was ejected by plate umpire Lance Barrett after Betts' double, objecting to an earlier 1-0 pitch that was called a ball. Betts' hit came two pitches after the disputed call.

Padres starter Mike Clevinger, a surprise addition to the NLDS roster after he came away with an elbow impingement in his final start of the regular season, started Game 1 but lasted just one-plus inning and 24 pitches, leaving with a tight right arm. He walked three and struck out one but didn't yield a run.

Asked if he might be able to pitch again in the NLDS, Clevinger said, "I'm not giving up, and I don't think anyone on that training staff's going to give up either. ... We're going to push it to get back."

The Dodgers did score a run in the fifth inning without a hit. Turner drew a walk from left-hander Tim Hill, and Will Smith drew a walk from right-hander Garrett Richards before Cody Bellinger reached base on a throwing error by second baseman Jake Cronenworth that allowed Turner to score.

That run tied the game 1-1 after the Padres had grabbed the lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Austin Nola.

The Dodgers took their first lead in the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Corey Seager, scoring Chris Taylor, who had gone to third on Betts' double. Los Angeles went up 3-1 on a Turner RBI single and 4-1 on a Bellinger RBI single. Max Muncy made it 5-1 when he scored on a Craig Stammen wild pitch.

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler, who worked through blister issues all of September, went four innings, allowing one run on two hits with four walks and eight strikeouts. Dustin May (1-0) followed with two scoreless innings to earn the victory.

Richards (0-1) gave up two runs in two-thirds of an inning to take the loss.

with files from Field Level Media

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