Justin Verlander outlasted an uncharacteristically wild Chris Sale, overcoming control problems of his own to give Houston six innings of two-hit ball on Saturday night and lead the Astros over the Boston Red Sox 7-2 in the AL Championship Series opener.
On a 48-degree night that left both aces struggling to find the plate — and rookie Red Sox manager Alex Cora struggling to control his temper — Carlos Correa fisted a single into left field to break a sixth-inning tie and give the defending World Series champions their fifth straight postseason victory.
Josh Reddick hit a solo homer leading off the ninth, and Yuli Gurriel curled a three-run shot into the front row beyond the Pesky Pole to clinch it.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Sunday night, with Boston left-hander David Price trying to end his postseason skid against Astros righty Gerrit Cole. Cora has expressed confidence in Price, a Cy Young Award winner who is 0-9 in 10 career postseason starts, and the 108-win Red Sox will need him to be better than Sale was in the opener.