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Royals 9, Astros 6: Royals five run eighth sends series back to Kansas City

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Lance McCullers goes six and two-thirds and Carlos Correa adds two home run and four RBIs, but bullpen struggles and a tough error cost the Astros a series clinching win.

Bob Levey/Getty Images

In a battle of young hurlers, Lance McCullers and the Astros showed a little nervousness in the top of the first. McCullers struggled to find the zone to start the game and ultimately hit Alcides Escobar on a pitch that ran up and in on the hands. Chris Carter then followed up the hit batsman by nearly airmailing a double play ball (luckily Carlos Correa made a nice play to at least get one).  The Astros settled in after that as McCullers induced a couple of fly balls to end the inning.

In the bottom of the frame, Yordano Ventura showed his youth and wildness as well. In a scary moment for Astros fans everywhere, Ventura caught Correa on the elbow with a pitch up and in. Colby Rasmus would follow with a single to beat the shift, but both runners would get stranded on an Evan Gattis strikeout as an eventful inning ultimately resulted in a 0-0 score line.

In the top of the second, McCullers looked good early with a strikeout of Kendrys Morales, but things went south quickly from there. Mike Moustakas worked a walk followed by a two run home run off the bat of Salvador Perez to open the scoring and take some of the air out of Minute Maid Park. Carlos Gomez injected some energy back into the building with a solo shot in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead back to 2-1.

After an uneventful top of the third, Correa pulled the Astros even in the bottom of the inning with his first career postseason homerun. Correa can now add the title of youngest Astro to hit a postseason homerun to his growing list of accomplishments. Correa would then come up in the bottom of the fifth with the score still tied at 2. With two outs and George Springer on first Correa came up with a chance to deliver again and drove a ball down the first base line. Springer was going on contact and scored from first easily to give the Astros their first lead of the day at 3-2.

McCullers made quick work of the Royals in the top of the sixth to complete a great start for the young righty. McCullers exited the game with seven strikeouts, a new franchise rookie postseason record. Outside of one mistake pitch that resulted in the two run homerun, McCullers commanded the zone well all day and had the Royals offense off balance for most of the day.

The game was turned over to the bullpen in the seventh and they did a great job shutting the door. Will Harris came in and got the final two outs in the seventh inning thanks in part to a replay review, which resulted in the first caught stealing of Terrance Gore’s career.

The Astros managed to break the game open by plating three more in the bottom of the seventh inning. Correa was right in the middle of the scoring again, as he launched his second home run of the game plating Altuve and pushing the lead to 5-2. Colby Rasmus then continued the hottest streak of his career by hitting a home run of his own and giving the Astros a 6-2 lead.

Harris went back out to pitch the top of the eighth, but proceeded to give up singles to the first four batters of the inning. This brought the score to 6-3 and left the bases loaded and no outs as Tony Sipp got the call from the bullpen. Things just continued to fall apart from there as Sipp gave up a single to Morales to push the score to 6-4. An error on Correa allowed the Royals to grab two more and tie the game with no outs. Sipp grabbed a huge strikeout of Mike Moustakas, but Luke Gregerson came in and walked Drew Butera to reload the bases. Alex Gordon grounded out to Altuve to finally get the second out of the inning, but also scored the go ahead run for the Royals.

30 minutes, eleven batters and five runs later the Astros escaped the inning, but the damage had been done. The Royals had grabbed a 7-6 lead going to the bottom of the eighth.

Wade Davis made quick work of the final six outs and Eric Hosmer added a two run home run as Kansas City won 9-6 and evened the series at 2-2. Game five will be played on Wednesday at 7:00 PM CT in Kansas City.