With his team facing elimination, and that elusive first World Series championship once again seeming to slip away, Houston's veteran manager Dusty Baker revamped his batting order. The result? Nine Astros runs, a critical Game 5 win, and a series that now heads back to Texas.
Shortstop Carlos Correa, bumped up to third in the batting order, came through with three hits and a pair of RBI, while first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who moved up to fifth after hitting seventh in Game 4, had 3 hits of his own and scored two runs. On the evening the Astros tallied a dozen hits, earning a 9-5 victory that, for the time being, extends their season.
The Braves, seeking their first championship in more than a quarter-century, opened the scoring in explosive fashion on Adam Duvall's first-inning Grand Slam. But the Astros quietly chipped away, ultimately drawing even at 4-4 on a Gurriel groundout in the top of the 3rd.
Veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman would put the Braves back in front in the bottom of the frame, launching a massive 460-foot homer into the seats in right-center field. Freeman's blast marked the longest home run by any player in the 2021 postseason, but it also represented the final scoring play of the evening for the home team. The Astros, however, were far from done.
Houston scored three times in the top of the 5th, highlighted by pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez's 2-out, 2-run single which gave the Astros their first lead of the game, 7-5.
The Astros added an insurance run in the 7th on catcher Martin Maldonado's third RBI of the night, and one more in the 8th on a Correa single which plated second baseman Jose Altuve.
On the night Houston used six pitchers, with the Astros bullpen holding Atlanta scoreless for the final six innings of the ballgame.
The loss marks the Braves' first defeat at home this postseason, and if Atlanta is to win the World Series, they'll be forced to do so in enemy territory. Both Game 6, and if necessary Game 7, will be in Houston.
Astros pitcher Jose Urquidy, normally a starter, earned the victory in relief for Houston, while Braves reliever A.J. Minter — who allowed three runs in the pivotal 5th frame — suffered the loss.
Now trailing 3-2, Houston aims to become just the 15th team in MLB history to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win a best-of-seven postseason series.
Game 6 is Tuesday night, with the first pitch set for 8:09 PM ET.