Astros pound Braves, finally advance
ATLANTA -- The journey was long, with plenty of discouraging setbacks along the way.
The last step was easy.
The Houston Astros finally won a postseason series in their 43rd year, shaking off the burden of seven playoff losses with a 12-3 rout of the Atlanta Braves on Monday night.
The newest Killer B, Carlos Beltran, hit two more homers and had five RBIs in the deciding fifth game of the first-round NL series.
With that, Houston got to experience all the trappings of postseason success: the group hug on the pitcher's mound, the sweet taste of champagne in the clubhouse.
"We feel comfortable with our team," said Beltran, an impending free agent acquired from Kansas City in June. "The past is in the past. We win, we move on."
The triumph was especiallq satisfying for Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, the heart of the Killer B's for more than a decade and part of the last four playoff series losses.
Three of those times, Houston's season ended with a loss to the Braves.
"We've been through a lot here, Craig and I and this organization," Bagwell said. "This is a big relief for us."
Beltran homered four times in the series, breaking the Houston postseason record.
In a poignant note, the mark was formerly held by Ken Caminiti, who spent 10 seasons with the Astros.
Caminiti died Sunday of an apparent heart attack at age 41.
Next up for the wild-card Astros is a matchup against Central Division rival St. Louis in the NL championship series starting Wednesday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.