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Division champs! Astros beat Rays 3-2 to clinch 4th AL West title in last 5 years

Carlos Correa's three-run blast in the fourth inning was all the offense Houston needed to clinch the division crown.
Credit: AP
The Houston Astros celebrate after beating the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game to win the American League West Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Houston. The Astros beat the Rays 3-2. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

HOUSTON — Carlos Correa hit his career-high 25th homer with a three-run shot and the Houston Astros clinched the AL West with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

It’s the fourth division title in five seasons and 10th overall for the Astros.

They’re in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season, extending a franchise record.

Manager Dusty Baker’s Astros will open the AL Division Series on Oct. 7 against the Chicago White Sox — home field for that best-of-five matchup is still to be determined.

Astros mascot Orbit dashed onto the field at Minute Maid Park waving a huge orange flag that touted their division title as the players cheered and embraced after the final out.

Tampa Bay has already clinched the top seed in the AL playoffs.

Here's how Thursday night's game went:

Lance McCullers started for Houston while the Rays went with Collin McHugh for an inning before turning to Ryan Yarbrough.

Pitching was the name of the game through the first three scoreless frames.

In the bottom of the fourth, Carlos Correa got the Astros in the run column with a three-run homer to left.

A couple of innings later, Brandon Lowe pulled a two-run homer down the right-field line that clanked off the foul pole, making it a 3-2 ballgame.

That was it for the scoring in the game as the Astros bullpen finished it off with three scoreless innings.

Playoff-bound

The win secures Houston's playoff spot for the 15th time in franchise history.

It's also the fifth straight playoff appearance for Houston.

With the division-clinching win Thursday night, Dusty Baker became the first manager in MLB history to win division titles with five different clubs (Astros, Nationals, Reds, Cubs and Giants).