Dazzling defense kept Game 2 close and a huge seventh inning powered Houston to victory. After cruising all season, the White Sox are on the brink of elimination.

HOUSTON — If you kept score at Minute Maid Park on Friday, you might have felt like a grade-school teacher with a class full of honor students, scribbling little stars onto paper all day. The Houston Astros’ defense was just that dazzling.

From the first play of the game, when shortstop Carlos Correa ranged across the bag and whipped a throw on the run, to the last, when right fielder Kyle Tucker raced into foul ground for a tricky fly ball, the Astros dominated on defense. They left town with a 9-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox and a two-games-to-none lead in this best-of-five American League division series.

“We preach that every single day in our clubhouse: Defense wins championships,” said Correa, who drilled a two-run double in the seventh as Chicago’s Leury Garcia twisted awkwardly in pursuit. “We take a lot of pride in that. From the moment we showed up in spring training, we said, ‘Hey, let’s try to be the No. 1 defensive team in the big leagues.’”

Correa led the majors in defensive wins above replacement this season, according to Baseball Reference, improving his first step and charging slow rollers more aggressively. Overall, the Astros turned 76 percent of grounders and bunts into outs, the best ratio in the A.L.

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