HOUSTON — Carlos Correa homered, doubled and drove in four runs, Jose Altuve got two more hits and the Houston Astros hammered the Boston Red Sox 8-2 Friday to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.
George Springer also homered to back Dallas Keuchel in Houston’s second straight romp by the exact same score.
The Astros will go for a sweep in the best-of-five matchup Sunday at Fenway Park.
A day after Altuve hit three home runs in the playoff opener, he got things going with a two-out single in the first inning off Drew Pomeranz. Correa, who went 0 for 4 on Thursday, made it 2-0 when he launched a towering shot onto the train tracks atop left field.
Keuchel pitched into the sixth, allowing one run and three hits while striking out seven.
After Jackie Bradley Jr. had an RBI single in the Boston second, the Astros started to break away.
Springer hit his first postseason homer when he sent the second pitch of the third inning into the front row of the seats in right field.
A double by Alex Bregman set up an RBI single by Altuve later in the inning, making it 4-1 and ending Pomeranz’s first career postseason start after two relief appearances. The lefty kept his head down as he trudged toward the dugout after being lifted.
David Price, the starter-turned-reliever with the $217 million contract, pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the Red Sox. Following his exit, Houston tacked on four runs in the sixth.
A two-out intentional walk to Altuve, the major league batting champion this season, led to a two-run double by Correa. The top overall pick in the 2012 draft and crown jewel of Houston’s years-long rebuilding project raised his hands in delight and motioned for the crowd to get louder as he stopped at second base.
Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts had an error that looked like it was pulled from a blooper reel earlier in the sixth when he caught a fly ball by Bregman then simply lost the ball as he tried to throw it back in. Betts looked confused as the ball dribbled away from him and he was charged with an error, allowing a run to score.
Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, known as much for his beard as his devastating sinker, was cheered on by Houston’s other famous bearded superstar as Rockets guard James Harden watched from a front-row seat behind home plate.
Keuchel’s father, Dennis, also was in attendance and multiple television shots showed him looking a mixture of excited and nervous as he gazed at his son’s work.
The left-hander had trouble settling in early and after needing 30 pitches to get through the second inning, it looked like his third postseason start might be a short one. But he struck out the last two batters of that inning as the first of 13 straight he retired.
Keuchel exited to a standing ovation after walking Hanley Ramirez with two outs in the sixth inning.
Altuve, who hit .346 this year, kept punishing pitchers. After singling in his first two trips to the plate, giving him five hits in the series, the Red Sox had seen enough and intentionally walked him in the fourth. That drew a loud chorus of boos from the home crowd, which greeted Altuve with a standing ovation in his first at-bat.
TOP NATIONAL STORIES
1. NFL players who knelt during the national anthem said they were exercising their free-speech rights and trying to bring attention to social injustices. Critics, including the president, said they were disrespecting the flag, the country and the military. Colin Kaepernick sued the league when no team signed him.
2. College basketball comes under the microscope after a federal investigation reveals corruption involving recruiting practices.
3. Houston Astros win their first World Series, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 to lift the spirits of a city devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
4. In a season that included his four-game suspension for “Deflategate,” Tom Brady engineers a record-breaking comeback as the Patriots defeat the Falcons in first-ever Super Bowl overtime.
5. The president of USA Gymnastics resigns amid a sexual abuse scandal that includes revelations by some of the sport’s biggest stars that they were victims.
6. Russia is banned from the Winter Olympics for a massive doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Games.
7. Clemson mounts a last-second comeback to beat Alabama for college football’s national championship.
8. The United States fails to qualify for soccer’s World Cup for the first time since 1986. Four-time champion Italy also fails to qualify.
9. New acquisition Kevin Durant leads the Golden State Warriors to the NBA championship against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
10. MMA star Conor McGregor steps into the boxing ring to face undefeated champion Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Top 10 national stories voted by Associated Press sports editors.
TOP BAY AREA STORIES
1. Golden State Warriors win NBA championship, sweeping through the playoffs with a 16-1 record to claim second title in three years.
2. Oakland Raiders win NFL owners’ approval to move the franchise to Las Vegas a year after the team failed to get the OK to move to Los Angeles.
3. Winless 49ers make a midseason trade with the New England Patriots to acquire quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who goes on a remarkable win streak after getting the starting nod.
4. Forty-niners owner cleans house, firing GM Trent Baalke and coach Chip Kelly, and turns the reins over to new general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan.
5. Ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner damages his throwing shoulder in an off-day dirt bike crash in Colorado, rendering him out of business for most of the season.
6. The Raiders end a 14-year playoff drought but are handicapped by injured quarterback Derek Carr’s absence and are eliminated by Houston.
7. NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant opts out of his Warriors contract, then re-signs a team-friendly extension that allows the team to keep almost everyone from the championship team.
8, Colin Kaepernick is given his release by the 49ers, launching months of debate about his worthiness as an NFL quarterback and a full season without a job.
9. Racked by age and injuries, the Giants struggle mightily and end up last in the NL West with 98 losses.
10. Among the preseason favorites to reach the Super Bowl, the Raiders enjoy none of the success they had in 2016 and finish well out of contention.
Top 10 Bay Area stories voted by The Press Democrat sports staff and regular contributors.