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Astros Keep Their Run Going A Little Bit Longer, Rally To Beat Braves In Game 5 Of World Series

ATLANTA—Whatever their methods, whether illicit or unseemly, the Astros’ success over the past half-decade cannot be denied.

Yuli Gurriel, Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Alex Bregman have played more postseason games together than any other infield in MLB history. The Astros have made five straight American League Championship Series, the first team to do that since the 1971-75 Athletics. They are in their third World Series in five seasons, the first AL team to do that since the dynastic Yankees teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

It’s been a historic run for the Astros, even taking into account the sign-stealing scandal that casts a pall over their 2017 World Series championship.

And it’s not over yet. The Astros made sure of that Sunday.

Correa and Gurriel had three hits apiece, Marwin Gonzalez delivered the tiebreaking, pinch-hit, two-run single and the Astros stormed back from a four-run deficit to beat the Braves, 9-5, in Game 5 of the World Series and keep their season alive. The Braves lead three games to two. The series returns to Houston for Game 6 on Tuesday.

“It’s a special group man,” Correa said. “I love those guys so much … We’ve grown together. We’ve gotten better together and we expect perfection out of each other. That’s the way we push each other, to just be better every single year. It’s just going to be special. We’ve just got to keep fighting and keep going and focus on Game 6.”

Adam Duvall hit a grand slam in the first inning to give the Braves an immediate 4-0 lead and put visions of the team clinching a World Series championship on its home field in the minds of nearly everyone at Truist Park, but the slumbering Astros’ offense finally awoke to save their season.

After scoring two runs in Games 3 and 4 combined, the Astros scored two runs each in the second and third innings to tie the score. The four runs in those two innings were as many as they scored in their previous 25 innings.

“I feel like that's what we do,” Correa said. “Throughout the whole year, obviously there are ups and downs and 162 games, so you've got time to make up for that. Here, there's no time for that. It took us four games, the fifth game. We made the adjustments. Hopefully, we can keep doing that for two more games.”

Unsurprisingly, the foundational four infielders played a central role in making it happen. Bregman, mired in a 1-for-14 slump and dropped to the seventh spot in the batting order, got the comeback started in the second inning with an RBI double. Correa, the former No. 1 overall pick trying to delay what might be his final game as an Astro, cut the deficit to one with an RBI double in the third to score Altuve. And Gurriel, the final addition to the infield when he joined the Astros on a five-year, $47.5 million contract from Cuba, followed two batters later with an RBI groundout to tie it.

The Braves re-took the lead in the bottom of the third on Freddie Freeman’s 460-foot, leadoff home run, but again, the Astros fought back. Correa led off the fifth with a single, Gurriel advanced him with another single two batters later and Bregman was intentionally walked to load the bases. Martin Maldonado drew a bases-loaded walk off A.J. Minter to tie the score and Gonzalez, another longtime Astro who was with the team from 2012-18 and re-joined the club this year, came off the bench and dropped a soft fly ball into left to score a pair and put Houston ahead for good.

With the rally, the Astros became just the fourth team to come back from a four-run deficit facing elimination in the World Series.

“These guys are together,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “They've been through many of these battles. They don't know how to quit, and they're always looking for an edge or an opening. Fortunately tonight, we took advantage of some.”

That the Astros joined such exclusive World Series company given where they started wasn’t lost on Gonzalez in particular. The genesis of the franchise’s success was its unapologetic decision to tank at the start of the last decade. The Astros lost 106, 107 and 111 games, respectively, from 2011-13 and were rewarded with three consecutive No. 1 draft picks from 2012-14. Gonzalez is one of only three current Astros players, along with Altuve and catcher Jason Castro, who experienced those 100-loss seasons.

“It’s been a roller coaster man,” said Gonzalez, who re-signed with the Astros in August after being released by the Red Sox. “I was here when we lost 100 games. I can tell you that’s one thing that I don’t wish that on any player. It’s not that you don’t want to play, but you don’t even want to show up. But since 2015 when we went to the AL Wild Card and we had a chance to taste the playoffs for the first time, for the group that was here since (2011), I mean we became a really good team. We became a winning team and a winning franchise.”

The Braves have little time to lament a missed opportunity to close out the World Series at home. They blew leads of 4-0 and 5-4 and now must go to Houston, where the Astros went 51-30 during the regular season and are 5-2 this postseason.

“You've got to tip your hat for Houston just staying in the game, just battling the at-bats and battling hits, and baseball happened tonight,” said Minter, who took the loss after allowing three runs in the fifth. “But we're in a really good spot. We're up 3-2 going back to Houston. If you told us that at the beginning of the series, we'd be happy with that.”

Jeremy Pena Edited

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