The Houston Astros used a change in their lineup Sunday to alter their perspective and then rallied from a four-run deficit to extend the 2021 World Series.
Marwin Gonzalez hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the fifth inning and Martin Maldonado drove in three runs as the Astros earned a 9-5 victory over the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 in Atlanta to cut the Braves' lead in the World Series to 3-2.
Facing elimination and trailing early after a first-inning grand slam from the Braves' Adam Duvall, the Astros' offense roared to life after a pair of lackluster games in Atlanta left them in a 3-1 hole in The Fall Classic.
Houston manager Dusty Baker moved Carlos Correa to the No. 3 spot in the lineup, a struggling Alex Bregman was dropped to No. 7 and Yuli Gurriel batted fifth. Correa drove in two runs, Bregman drove in Houston's first run of the game and Gurriel had three hits.
"It was a great team effort all the way around," Bregman said on MLB Network. "We got punched in the mouth early with the grand slam and then came back, found a way to win and now we're headed back home."
Houston scored multiple runs in the second, third and fifth innings, with Maldonado's bases-loaded walk in the fifth tying the score 5-5, before Gonzalez dumped a two-run single into left against Atlanta left-hander A.J. Minter (1-1) to give the Astros a 7-5 lead.
"People love playing for (Baker), he's a great guy," Maldonado said. "He's going to be a Hall of Famer. He's always talking to the players, making us laugh and when we're struggling, he's always there for us."
The Astros became just the fourth team to rally from a four-run deficit to win an elimination game in the World Series, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and the first since the Angels did it in Game 6 in 2002 against the Giants, who were managed by Baker.
Freddie Freeman had a solo home run for the Braves, who have two more chances to wrap up their first World Series title since 1995 when the Series shifts to Houston. Game 6 is Tuesday, with a potential Game 7 scheduled for Wednesday.
The Astros need consecutive victories to become the first team since the 2016 Chicago Cubs to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win the championship.
Duvall's opening-inning slam came off Astros left-hander Framber Valdez after the Braves loaded the bases on singles from Jorge Soler and Austin Riley and a walk drawn by Eddie Rosario. It was Duvall's second home run of the World Series and third of the postseason.
"I was looking for something that started up, because I know if he gets it down, it's going to be a tough pitch to hit," Duvall said. "I saw it up and put a good swing on it."
The Astros scored a pair of runs in the second on a Bregman double and a sacrifice fly from Maldonado. It was just Bregman's second hit of the series.
The Astros tied the game 4-4 in the third on an RBI double from Correa and a run-scoring groundout from Gurriel. Correa also drove in a run in the eighth.
Freeman gave Atlanta a 5-4 lead with a mammoth 140-meter home run in the third. It was his first home run of the series and fourth of the postseason.
The Astros' rally against Minter in the fifth started with two singles and an intentional walk to Bregman before Maldonado and Gonzalez delivered.
"We have the pitchers to cover innings and a lot of pitchers stepped up today," Minter said. "It was just one of those games where it was a battle for both sides. You have to tip your hat to Houston for just staying in the game. … But we're in a good spot up 3-2 going back to Houston, and if you told us at the beginning of the series, we would be happy with that."
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