LOS ANGELES -- Chad Pinder blasted a tying home run and Australian pitcher Liam Hendriks was stellar Wednesday as the Oakland A's avoided elimination from the Major League Baseball playoffs by rallying to defeat the Houston Astros 9-7.
Pinder went 3-for-4 and drove in four runs while Hendriks struck out four and allowed only one hit over three shutout innings to collect the win as the A's pulled within 2-1 in the best-of-five second-round American League series with game four Thursday.
"We're trying to just get to the next day," Pinder said. "That's what this game was about. It was a scrap but we get to tomorrow and that's all we can ask for."
The series winner will meet either the Tampa Bay Rays or New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series starting Sunday.
In the National League, Atlanta's Dansby Swanson and Travis d'Arnaud hit home runs to give the Braves a 2-0 victory over Miami and put them on the brink of advancing to the NL Championship Series.
The Braves, who haven't won the World Series since 1995, could complete a three-game sweep Thursday.
The Atlanta-Miami winner will face either the Padres or Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.
The Rays and Yankees were to meet later Wednesday as were the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers.
While the Braves used overpowering pitching, the A's won a slugfest with some relief help from Down Under.
Pinder blasted a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to lift the A's level at 7-7, the club matching a 31-year-old team record with five homers in a playoff game.
"That was awesome," Pinder said. "We came in there at 7-4. We had to come back. I was just looking for a good pitch and trying to put a good swing on it."
Pinder and Sean Murphy each hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly to right field in the eighth inning to give Oakland their final victory margin.
Closing relief ace Hendriks entered for Oakland in the seventh, the 31-year-old from Perth being asked to obtain the final nine outs -- triple his usual load -- to keep the A's season going.
Hendriks retired the Astros in order in the seventh and struck out Josh Reddick with two runners in scoring position to end the eighth.
In the ninth, Hendriks retired the top of the Astros' batting order 1-2-3 to complete the victory.
"When you have a guy like that in the back end of your bullpen, there's no tension in your shoulders," Pinder said of Hendriks. "He did a fantastic job. Time and time again, he has come through for us."
Tommy La Stella, Mark Canha and Matt Olson hit solo homers early for the A's while Houston's Jose Altuve homered early as well.
Marcus Semien smashed a solo homer in the fifth inning to give Oakland a 4-2 edge, but the Astros plated five runs in the bottom of the fifth, with Aledmys Diaz's two-run homer pulling the Astros level at 4-4.
George Springer was hit by a pitch, took second on an Altuve single and scored on Michael Brantley's single to give Houston the lead. Alex Bregman doubled to drive in Brantley and scored himself on Kyle Tucker's single for a 7-4 Astros' adventage.
- Braves pitchers rule -
The Braves became only the third team in MLB history to start a playoff run with three shutouts in its first four games, joining the 1966 Baltimore Orioles and 1905 New York Giants.
Marlins starting pitcher Pablo Lopez surrendered solo homers to Swanson in the second inning and d'Arnaud in the fourth for the only runs.
Atlanta pitcher Ian Anderson went 5 2/3 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, allowing only three hits with one walk, and four relievers did not allow a base hit.
Braves pitchers have tossed 37 scoreless innings so far in the playoffs.
© Agence France-Presse