NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Kansas City Royals moved within one win of their first World Series crown in 30 years by beating the New York Mets 5-3 on Saturday to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven for the Major League Baseball championship.
An error by Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy, their National League Championship Series hero, on a slow roller by Eric Hosmer in the eighth inning opened the floodgates for the Royals, who turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 lead.
The three-run burst against relievers Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia negated a pair of home runs hit by Mets’ rookie Michael Conforto.
“That’s just what our team does,” said Royals manager Ned Yost, after his team’s seventh comeback win of the postseason. “We feel like if we can keep the game close, we’re going to find a way to win it.
“It’s a team that just looks for a little crack. If we find a little crack, they’re going to make something happen.”
Kansas City closer Wade Davis came on in the eighth to register a six-out save, with reliever Ryan Madson claiming the win.
The Royals will seek to end the series with a Game Five win in New York on Sunday. A Mets win would send the series back to Kansas City for Game Six on Tuesday.
“We’ve been swinging the bats very well. We had a nice night last night, and tonight we just didn’t get the hits when we needed them, except for Conforto,” Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters.
“If anybody can give me the answers to why we’re not hitting in certain situations, I’d like to hear them.”
Fueled by solo shots leading off the third and fifth innings by 22-year-old Conforto, and five solid innings from fellow-rookie Mets starter Steven Matz, New York looked set to level the series at 2-2 when they entered the eighth inning.
Mets manager Collins sent Tyler Clippard, his fifth pitcher of the night, out to start the eighth.
After retiring Alcides Escobar, Clippard walked Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain, and closer Jeurys Familia was summoned.
Familia got Hosmer to tap a slow roller to the right side and Murphy charged in only to have the dribbler sneak under his glove and roll into short rightfield.
That allowed Zobrist to score and Cain to reach third.
Mike Moustakas followed with a ground single to right that scored Cain and Salvador Perez added another single to right to plate Hosmer for the third run of the inning.
“Daniel Murphy did not lose this game, we lost this game as a team,” Mets captain David Wright said about the man who set an MLB record with home runs in six successive postseason games for New York during their run to the World Series.
Moustakas said the Royals keep fighting and applying pressure.
“We’re just trying to put the ball in play,” Moustakas said after driving in the game-winning run.
“Familia, that guy throws a bowling-ball sinker and Hoz did a good job of putting the ball in play and make some things happen. It’s just kind of how the ball bounced today.”
After throwing a 1-2-3 eighth, closer Davis put men on first and second with one out before Lucas Duda hit a soft liner to third baseman Moustakas, who fired to first to double up Yoenis Cespedes, who strayed too far, for a game-ending double play.
The victory put the Royals on the cusp of their first title since their 1985 triumph over cross-state rivals the St. Louis Cardinals.
Editing by Andrew Both/Amlan Chakraborty