Royals rally on Correa’s error, get 5 in 8th to beat Astros 9-6, force ALDS to decisive Game 5

HOUSTON — Astros shortstop Carlos Correa couldn’t handle a deflected grounder that might have been a double-play ball, helping the Kansas City Royals rally for five runs in the eighth inning to beat Houston 9-6 Monday and force their playoff series to a decisive Game 5.

Correa homered twice, doubled, singled and drove in four runs in Game 4 of the AL Division Series. Houston took a 6-2 lead into the eighth, but a tough error charged to the 21-year-old rookie keyed the Royals’ comeback to even the matchup at two games apiece.

Game 5 will be back in Kansas City on Wednesday night. Johnny Cueto is set to start for the Royals against Collin McHugh.

“Everyone that watched that game, everybody that was a part of that game knows how difficult it is to feel like that game was closing in our favour and then have it not go our way,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.

“But it’s big boy sport. We’ll adjust, and we will be ready to play,” he said.

Late in the game, a tweet from the account of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott congratulated the Astros on advancing to the AL Championship Series.

But the defending AL champion Royals had other ideas.

Kansas City opened the eighth with five straight singles off relievers Will Harris and Tony Sipp, with RBI hits by Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer making it 6-4 and leaving the bases with no outs.

Kendrys Morales followed with a hard, one-bouncer off Sipp’s glove. The ball took two more hops and got past the top of Correa’s mitt, rolling into centre field as two runs scored to tie it at 6.

Alex Gordon’s RBI groundout off Luke Gregerson later in the inning put Kansas City ahead.

Hosmer launched a long, two-run homer in the ninth for insurance.

“We always feel that we’re still in games, and we still have a chance,” Hosmer said. “That’s the mentality for this whole entire team. It’s never quit, and the character we showed today. That’s what a championship ballclub does.”

Ryan Madson (1-0) gave up two home runs in the seventh and still got the win. Wade Davis pitched two scoreless innings for his second save.

Sipp took the loss.

Colby Rasmus homered for Houston, his fourth in five playoff games this October. Carlos Gomez also connected for the Astros.

Correa went 4 for 4 and was hit by a pitch.

Plunked by Yordano Ventura his first time up, Correa answered with a solo homer to tie it in the third. He put Houston on top with an RBI double in the fifth and became the youngest player with a multihomer game in AL playoff history with a two-run shot off Ryan Madson in the seventh for a 6-2 lead.

At 21 years and 20 days old, Correa became the youngest player in franchise history to homer in the playoffs, the youngest shortstop to do it in the post-season in Major League history and sixth-youngest player overall.

Salvador Perez hit a two-run homer in the second to give the Royals an early lead. But Houston starter Lance McCullers retired 15 of the next 18 batters, eaving after hitting Perez with a pitch with one out in the seventh.

Ventura yielded four hits and three runs in five innings. He was pitching on short rest after taking the loss in a start limited to two innings because of a rain delay in Houston’s 5-2 win in the opener.

He’s just the second player in franchise history to hit two homers in a post-season game, joining Carlos Beltran, who did it in 2004.

Rasmus, who homered in the AL wild-card win over the Yankees, hit his third home run of the ALDS when he followed Correa’s second shot with a home run off the foul pole in right field in the seventh.

GLAD HE’S OK: Two pitches before his home run, Perez fouled a ball into the stands down the first base line and it struck a young boy. Perez looked concerned and took a second to get back in the box. Later, a team official said the boy was fine after being treated by first aid at the ballpark.

Kristie Rieken, The Associated Press