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Tuesday’s ALDS: Springer hits 2 HRs, Astros beat A’s 5-2 for 2-0 series lead

Beth Harris
Associated Press

Los Angeles – Back-to-back home runs off back-to-back pitches. The Houston Astros can’t miss these days.

George Springer hit two homers and Houston 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.

Houston Astros' Carlos Correa, left, and George Springer celebrate after the Astros defeated the Oakland Athletics in Game 2 Tuesday.

Martín 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.

“With every victory, the energy and the confidence grows,” first-year Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “We’re expecting good things to happen.”

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.

“You don’t know if you’re ever going to get back here, so the times you’re here you might as well try and have fun,” Springer said.

Houston went back-to-back in the fifth, extending the lead to 5-2.

Maldonado’s solo shot chased loser Sean Manaea in his first appearance this postseason. Yusmeiro Petit came in, and Springer connected for his second homer of the game. Maldonado yelled and raised his right arm in celebration from his seat in the dugout.

“Just a couple bad pitches,” Manaea said. “I know we are going to figure this thing out and turn it around.”

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

“I don’t really pay attention to that stuff,” Springer said. “I’d much rather us win.”

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.

The scandal led to season-long suspensions of Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch, who both were fired. Boston manager Alex Cora and Mets manager Carlos Beltrán also lost their jobs as fallout their roles with the ‘17 Astros, and Houston still draws ire of other players and fans.

“This is a team that believes in one another and sticks together and really tries to enjoy the day,” Springer said.

Houston turned three double plays, including one to end the game. Second baseman José Altuve got the first two going and had a hand in all three.

“What kept us in the game was our defense,” Baker said. “Jose made some great plays.”

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

“His ball is moving all over the place. His breaking ball was good,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “Our bats were better early. He got more confidence as the game went along. Last three times out he has pitched with a lot of confidence.”

Valdez dazzled in his relief appearance against Minnesota in the AL wild card series opener, tossing five scoreless innings and scattering two hits to go with five strikeouts.

Enoli Paredes retired the side in the eighth. Ryan Pressly worked around Marcus Semien’s leadoff single in the ninth, Oakland’s only hit past the fourth inning, to finish a six-hitter for his second save of the postseason.

Oakland didn’t have an at-bat with a runner in scoring position. The A’s are hitting 14 for 62 (.226) in the series.

“We have nothing to lose from here,” A’s infielder Chad Pinder said.

Oakland got on board with Khris Davis’ second-inning home run, his third of this postseason that put the A’s ahead.

After Springer’s first homer, the Astros extended their lead to 3-1 on Carlos Correa’s RBI groundout in the fourth that scored Michael Brantley, who doubled leading off.

Pinder led off the bottom half with a 453-foot homer to right-center, the longest home run at Dodger Stadium this season.

For the second straight game, Oakland’s starting pitching failed to go deep. Manaea gave up four runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings. Chris Bassitt didn’t get out of the fourth in Game 1, allowing three runs and nine hits.

“We just have to win tomorrow and worry about the next day after that,” Melvin said. “Anything further than that is a distraction.”

More ALDS

Tampa Bay 7, N.Y. Yankees 5: Randy Arozarena, Mike Zunino, Manuel Margot and Austin Meadows hit home runs, and Tyler Glasnow struck out 10 to set a postseason record for the Tampa Bay Rays, who beat the New York Yankees 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.

Stanton has three homers in the series and five in four postseason games. The Yankees have 13 homers in four playoff games.

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

DJ LeMahieu (Birmingham Brother Rice) hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth, but Pete Fairbanks retired Aaron Judge on a grounder with runners at the corners to earn the save.

Game 3 in the best-of-five series is Wednesday night. The Rays, who won the AL East 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.

Division Series 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

(All games on TBS)

New York Yankees 1, Tampa Bay 1

At San Diego

Monday, Oct. 5: New York Yankees 9, Tampa Bay 3

Tuesday, Oct. 6: Tampa Bay 7, New York Yankees 5

Wednesday, Oct. 7: Tampa Bay (Morton 2-2) vs. New York Yankees (Tanaka 3-3), 7:10 p.m.

Thursday, Oct. 8: Tampa Bay vs. New York Yankees (Happ 2-2), 7:10 p.m.

x-Friday, Oct. 9: New York Yankees vs. Tampa Bay, 7:10 p.m.

Houston 2, Oakland 0

At Los Angeles

Monday, Oct. 5: Houston 10, Oakland 5

Tuesday, Oct. 6: Houston 5, Oakland 2

Wednesday, Oct. 7: Oakland vs. Houston, 3:35 p.m.

x-Thursday, Oct. 8: Oakland vs. Houston, 3:35 p.m.

x-Friday, Oct. 9: Houston vs. Oakland, 3:35 p.m.

x-If necessary