(The Sports Xchange) - It was a survival game for the Kansas City Royals and a missed opportunity for the Houston Astros.
Ben Zobrist drove in Alcides Escobar with the go-ahead run in the seventh inning as the Royals rallied from a three-run deficit to defeat the Astros 5-4 on Friday and even the American League Division Series at one win each.
Zobrist grounded a single to left on a curveball by Houston reliever Will Harris that scored Escobar, who led off the inning with a triple to right center.
The Royals play the next two games in Houston and on Sunday face left-hander Dallas Keuchel, who is 15-0 this season at Minute Maid Park.
“I just kept telling the boys we’ve got a long way to go, just keep plugging away,” manager Ned Yost said after the Royals were trailing by three runs early. “Let it happen, don’t try to make it happen. Just let it happen and it did.”
Royals relievers Kelvin Herrera, Ryan Madson and Wade Davis shut down the Astros in the final three innings. Herrera picked up the victory and Davis logged his first postseason save.
Harris, the fourth of six Astros pitchers, took the loss.
The Astros jumped out to a 4-1 lead but managed just two singles after the third inning.
Both starters — Astros left-hander Scott Kazmir and Royals right-hander Johnny Cueto — were acquired in late July trades to bolster their club’s chances for the postseason.
Kazmir departed after 5 1/3 innings, charged with three runs, five hits and a walk.
“From the first pitch of the game I felt I had good command of all my pitches,” Kazmir said. “I was able to give the hitters a different look. I felt great. I felt I was getting stronger as the game was going on.”
Cueto had a shaky first three innings, permitting four runs and six hits, including a home run by Rasmus, but only one hit after that. Cueto’s final line was four runs, seven hits and three walks in six innings.
“I felt strong,” Cueto said via an interpreter. “I felt like I was aggressive. Obviously this was a very important game that I had to go out and perform for my team.
“I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I knows the magnitude of the trade and I know why I was brought here. I take a lot of pride in my stuff and a lot of pride in helping my club win.”
The Astros again struck early and often, seizing a 4-2 lead after three innings.
Rasmus doubled with two outs in the first, scoring right fielder George Springer, who had walked. Rasmus has an extra-base hit in his first six postseason games, a major league record.
“I feel blessed,” Rasmus said. “The Good Lord is with me. It’s just one of those things.
“I’m just playing and not thinking about no records or none of that stuff. I’m just loving the game right now and trying to help these boys win a ball game.”
But the Royals got the win, scoring three runs in the sixth and seventh inning to pull out a badly needed victory.
Editing by Andrew Both