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Altuve belts three homers as Astros win opener

LOS ANGELES: Jose Altuve became the first player in club history to homer three times in a playoff game as Houston clobbered Boston 8-2 in the opening game of their American League division series.
Most Valuable Player candidate Altuve posted just the 10th three-homer game in Major League Baseball post-season history as the Astros’ batting lineup overpowered Cy Young contender and Red Sox starter Chris Sale Thursday in front of a crowd of 43,100 at Minute Maid Park.
“I couldn’t believe any of my homers,” Altuve said. “I hit one and I was like, ‘Wow!’ And the second one was like, ‘Wow, what’s going on here?’ (After the third homer), oh, I don’t know. I got to wake up.”
In the late game, Trevor Bauer pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and combined with two relievers on a three-hitter as the Cleveland Indians shut out the New York Yankees 4-0 in game one of their AL series.
All-star second baseman Altuve hit two of his homers off Sale, finishing with three hits in four at-bats.
He staked the Astros to a 2-0 lead with a solo homer in the first inning before adding a two-out shot off Sale in the fifth and a leadoff homer against Red Sox relief pitcher Austin Maddox in the seventh.
Houston seized a 1-0 series lead by hammering four home runs overall while getting two-run base hits from Marwin Gonzalez and Brian McCann.
Sale, making his first career playoff start, was shaky throughout his five-plus innings.
He surrendered nine hits and one walk and was charged with seven earned runs while striking out six.
Astros right-hander Justin Verlander finished with two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings. He recorded his eighth post-season win.
Verlander needed 79 pitches to complete four innings, having surrendered a two-out single to Sandy Leon in the second and a sacrifice fly to Rafael Devers that scored Mookie Betts in the fourth.
But Verlander tossed just 20 pitches total in the fifth and sixth, and by the time right-hander Chris Devenski entered in relief in the seventh the Astros held a commanding five-run lead.
In Cleveland, Bauer did not surrender a hit until the sixth inning when Aaron Hicks doubled with one out.
The only other hit against Bauer was a single by Starlin Castro with two outs in the seventh.
Jay Bruce had a home run and three RBIs for the Indians.
Bauer, who was 17-9 during the regular season, threw 98 pitches, striking out eight with one walk.
Andrew Miller followed Bauer to the mound and struck out three of the five batters he faced, but the left-hander walked two in the eighth inning.
Closer Cody Allen relieved Miller and he struck out Aaron Judge to end the inning. Allen retired the side in the ninth to pick up the save.
Judge, who blasted 52 home runs during the regular season, struck out four times.
Yankees starter Sonny Gray pitched just over three innings, giving up three runs and three hits with two strikeouts and four walks.