Astros halt Hendriks' MLB run with Chicago

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Australian pitcher Liam Hendriks and his Chicago White Sox have been blasted out of the MLB playoffs, losing 10-1 at home to the Houston Astros.

Houston are going to the American League championship series (ALCS) for the fifth-straight year after sealing their best-of-five showdown with Chicago 3-1 on Tuesday night.

But the National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants - two teams with 100-plus game winners this season - is on a knife-edge with the Dodgers posting a 7-2 victory.

In Chicago, Jose Altuve scored four times including a ninth-inning three-run home run off Perth-born closer Hendriks, who was an All-Star in his first season with the White Sox and led the American League with 38 regular season saves.

The 32-year-old could do little to prevent defeat against the dominant Braves, who led 7-1 before he even stepped onto the mound.

Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman each hit a two-run double as the Astros bounced back from a defeat on Sunday night - sealed when Hendriks struck out Altuve - with their usual relentless brand of baseball.

"We don't get tired of this moment," Correa said.

"They're special, and we perform our best when October comes."

Altuve and company move on to Game 1 of the ALCS against former Astros bench coach Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox on Friday in Houston.

Boston eliminated Tampa Bay with a 6-5 victory in Game 4 of their series on Monday night.

"We're playing another good team," Altuve said.

It's Houston's second ALCS under 72-year-old manager Dusty Baker, who replaced A.J. Hinch when he was fired in the fallout from the Astros' 2017 sign-stealing scandal that also resulted in a one-year ban for Cora.

The Atlanta Braves return to National League championship series (NLCS) for the second sucessive season after eliminating the Milwaukee Brewers in 4 games, with a 5-4 home victory.

A Freddie Freeman home run off Milwaukee closer Josh Hader with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning proved the difference.

The Braves advance to face either the 107-win San Francisco Giants or the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers with a trip to the World Series on the line.

In Los Angeles, Mookie Betts and Will Smith hit home runs as Walker Buehler pitched into the fifth inning on short rest as the Dodgers forced a deciding fifth game against the Giants.

The first-ever playoff series between the long-time rivals is even at two wins apiece with Game 5 set for Thursday in San Francisco.

After taking the loss in Game 1 on Friday, Buehler (1-1) returned on three days' rest for the first time in his career to give up one run on three hits over 4 1/3 innings in Game 4. He struck out four and walked two.

Giants starter Anthony DeSclafani (0-1) lasted just 1 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits while facing 10 batters in his first career post-season appearance. He fanned two without issuing a walk.

San Francisco won the NL West by one game over the Dodgers in an historic race that went down to the final day of the regular season.

Now, these storied rivals are set for a winner-take-all showdown.

"I think it's only fitting," Los Angeles ace Buehler said.

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