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Astros throw Cole on Indians, near sweep

The Associated PressHOUSTON (AP) — Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole have been even more brilliant in the playoffs, keeping Cleveland’s powerful offense in check to give the Houston Astros a 2-0 lead in the AL Division Series.

Cole struck out 12 and walked none, combining with two relievers on Houston’s second straight three-hitter in a 3-1 victory Saturday.

“There’s no doubt we expect to be good, but this is a team effort,” Cole said. “So, we expect to keep our team in the ballgame. I don’t know about all the personal accolades or all the dominance or that kind of stuff, but we just want to put up a fight.”

Marwin Gonzalez hit a go-ahead, two-run double and Alex Bregman homered for the second straight day.

Next up: 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel will oppose Mike Clevinger in Game 3 of this best-of-five series on Monday in Cleveland.

Francisco Lindor hit a third-inning homer for the AL Central champion Indians, who have three runs in the two games. Cleveland is batting .100 (6-for-60) following a regular season in which the Indians ranked second in the majors with a .259 average.

Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson have combined to go 1-for-22.

“This is one of the best offenses in the league,” manager AJ Hinch said. “They can do damage. They can put long at-bats together. [Cole] used all his pitches. He was creative. What else can I say? He was awesome.”

Gonzalez put the Astros ahead in the sixth with the third of his four hits, an opposite-field double to right off usually reliable reliever Andrew Miller.

“With a one-run lead, and with Gonzalez coming up the way he had swung the bat against him prior and Andrew’s history, I felt really good about it,” manager Terry Francona said. “Didn’t work out the way we obviously planned.”

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