ATLANTA (Ticker) -- The
ended years of postseason frustration by beating an
team that quickly is cornering the market on it.
homered twice and drove in five runs and
gutted his way through five innings as the Astros posted a 12-3 triumph over the Braves in the decisive fifth game of their National League Division Series.
Winning a postseason series for the first time in the 43-year history of the franchise, Houston earned a spot in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Game One of that series begins Wednesday in St. Louis.
Houston won 10 of 18 meetings with their division rivals this season.
"They got a good team," Beltran said. "They have a lot of guys who can hit the ball good. We need to take the same approach we did today. We don't want to try too hard."
"We got a chance right now to get to the World Series and win it," Oswalt said. "Everybody talks about St. Louis' bats, but we should match up well."
After blowing a three-run lead at home in Game Four, Houston took an early 3-0 advantage in this one, but used a five-run seventh inning to hand Atlanta yet another home playoff loss.
The Braves have won an unprecedented 13 straight division titles, but just one World Series over that span. Compounding matters is the fact that Atlanta has been eliminated from the postseason at Turner Field in seven of the last eight seasons - the last three years in Game Five of the NL Division Series.
"It happens sometimes," Braves third baseman
said. "We've run into a streak. I don't want to say it's bad luck, (but) in Game Fives we haven't been able to get the big hit or get the big out in the right situation."
"We've seen it happen quite a few times," Atlanta center fielder
said of losing big games at Turner Field. "We didn't want it to happen this year. They came in battling and scored some runs. There's no way we wanted to lose the game."
Houston made sure it would not fall to 0-8 in postseason series by relying on a balanced attack.
, who have been a part of four of those losing series, combined for four hits, three runs and three RBI.
"Everybody contributed to this," Biggio said. "We have earned it. Each year's a different year. This is a new year right now. We haven't had much success in the past. It was nice this year and now we're able to go another round."
"I've been playing for a long time," Bagwell said. "I've been disappointed a lot. Now I'm excited. We've been trying to get to this point as an organization. Now we'll try to go further. This team's pretty good right now. We'll have a (heck) of a series with St. Louis, like we always do."
The 36 runs scored by the Astros in the series set an NLDS record, besting the previous mark of 27, set by Atlanta in 1995.
"Personally, for all the long suffering fans in Houston and for Biggio and Bagwell, this is very gratifying," Houston interim manager
said. "We're going to enjoy this for a few minutes and then get locked in."
Nine of the runs in this one came after Atlanta drew within 3-2 in the fifth. Oswalt (1-0), pitching on three days' rest for the second time in his career, allowed two runs - on solo homers by
- and five other hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out four.
"I threw a few more breaking pitches than normal, just because I didn't want my legs to get too tired," Oswalt said. "I wanted to go six or seven innings, but my pitch count was high, my legs kind of got tired in the fifth inning. I left two balls up in up in the fifth. But coming back on three days was not that big of a deal for me."
, who allowed a game-tying three-run homer to
in Game Four, got through the sixth Houston broke open the game with five straight two-out hits in the seventh. Included in that barrage were RBI singles by Biggio and Beltran and Bagwell's second homer of the series.
Houston pushed across a pair of runs in the second against Atlanta starter
(0-2) and Beltran hit his third homer of the series in the next inning. After Furcal and Estrada homered against a clearly tiring Oswalt in the fifth, Beltran made it 4-2 with another solo shot in the sixth.
Beltran was 5-for-6 with three home runs off Wright in the series and his four homers set a Houston postseason record.
"It's just been great so far," Beltran said. "I'm looking forward to try to do the same thing in the next round. I'm happy and having fun, and it's a dream come true in the playoffs. As a player, you want to be in the playoffs."
"It's nice to know he's going to get a lot of recognition, because he's played spectacular down the stretch," Garner said.
Wright was tagged for four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struggled with his control early, falling behind seven of the game's first eight batters.
"It was just missed spots," Wright said. "They took advantage of me by hitting those out of the park. You're not wanting to throw it there, but they're going to take advantage of it."
The crowd of 54,068 was the second-largest ever at Turner Field, surpassed only by the 54,357 who attended Game Five of the NLDS against Chicago last year.