3 keys to Astros ALCS Game 3 against Red Sox

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HOUSTON – The Houston Astros took care of business on the road in Boston to start the American League Championship Series, winning the first game and losing the second.

By splitting Games 1 and 2, Houston has now regained the home-field advantage and is set up to keep the wins coming in Games 3, 4 and 5 at Minute Maid Park.

Here are the keys to a Game 3 victory for the Astros against the Red Sox.

1. Pitching and defense

These are two obvious factors in any game of baseball, but especially with Dallas Kuechel on the mount. Kuechel leads baseball in hits allowed, which is not necessarily a bad thing if the defense is locked in. Kuechel's style of pitching does not lend itself to a huge strikeout performance, but he can be just as solid in holding off runs as we saw in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Indians.

2. Don't rely on the homers

Six of the Astros 12 runs scored in the first two games of the series have been home runs. If the Astros continue to go yard, that's never a bad thing. However, they can't always rely on that. The key will be getting guys on base, mixing in singles and doubles to get in scoring position.

3. No errors

In playoff baseball, when the two best teams in the majors are going head to head, it will often come down to who plays the cleanest game. The Astros had three errors in Game 3, which one could argue cost them the win. In order to beat a team with the best record in baseball -- the Red Sox -- mistakes just can't happen.