Houston is one step closer to the ultimate comeback

Astros stay hot, force winner-take-all Game 7 by winning ALCS Game 6

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Not going down without a fight, the once 0-3 record for the Astros in the ALCS improved to 2-3 after a big walk-off home run by Carlos Correa to end Game 5 and force Game 6. One more win and they'd force a decisive Game 7, where they could join the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only two teams to erase a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series.

They would do just that, with their offense coming alive in the middle innings to take over the game to back up another impressive start by Framber Valdez. It sets up a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday. Here's how Game 6 unfolded:

Final Score: Astros 7, Rays 4.

Series: tied 3-3.

Winning Pitcher: Framber Valdez.

Losing Pitcher: Blake Snell.

Rays score first, Astros answer back with four in the fifth

After a scoreless first inning on both sides, it was Tampa Bay who started the scoring in the bottom of the second. Despite Valdez starting hot and striking out three of the first four batters, he allowed a one-out single that would come around and score on a two-out RBI-double to put the Rays up 1-0.

That score held until the top of the fifth, when a leadoff walk by Yuli Gurriel followed by a single by Aledmyz Diaz would spell the end for Blake Snell, whose manager would take him out to try and get his trusted bullpen into the game. Instead, Houston would move the runners on a sac bunt by Martin Maldonado then bring both in to take a 2-1 lead on a two-RBI single by George Springer. That opened the floodgates, with Jose Altuve driving in another on the next pitch, an RBI-double to the left-field wall, followed later by an RBI-single by Carlos Correa, making it a four-run inning and a 4-1 Astros lead.

Valdez impresses again and leaves in line for the win

Kyle Tucker would make it a four-run lead in the top of the sixth, leading the inning off with a solo home run to make it 5-1. Framber Valdez continued his impressive night in the bottom of the inning, getting his fifth scoreless inning and wrapping up a one-run gem, leaving in line for the win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 0 HR, 101 P.

Houston's offense kept rolling into the top of the seventh, when Jose Altuve would start it off with a single, moved to second on a passed ball, then scored on an RBI-single by Michael Brantley. Tucker would later bring in his second run in as many innings, getting a sac fly to make it a six-run game at 7-1.

Houston forces Game 7

With Valdez's night done, Andre Scrubb would come in for the top of the seventh with the big lead. He was met with a solo homer by Manuel Margot to cut it to 7-2, then was only able to get two outs while putting two more on base before Dusty Baker would bring in Blake Taylor to finish the inning. Despite loading the bases on three straight walks to start the top of the eighth, the Astros would follow it with three strikeouts in a row to stand all three runners, keeping it a 7-2 game.

Cristian Javier would take over on the mound in the bottom of the inning, but after two strikeouts, he would issue a two-out walk to set up another home run to Margot, his second in as many innings, to trim the lead to 7-4. After a scoreless top of the ninth, the Astros would be forced to use closer Ryan Pressly in the three-run situation, his third appearance in as many days. He would come through with the save, finishing off the win as Houston evened the series to move one step closer to one of the ultimate comebacks in the sports world.

Up Next: It all comes down to this. The end of the road for one of these two teams comes after ALCS Game 7, which will start on Saturday at 7:37 PM Central, though that time could change if the Braves finish the NLCS Friday night. Though not announced, the expected pitching matchup mirrors Game 2, which was Lance McCullers Jr. for Houston and Charlie Morton for the Rays.

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