Houston stays alive

Carlos Correa's walk-off homer forces Game 6 in ALCS

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With a win under their belt by taking Game 4, the Astros moved on from avoiding being swept in the ALCS and shifted their focus to Game 5 as they try day-by-day to stay alive in the postseason and potentially advance to the World Series. With Dusty Baker betting on his bullpen and not starting Framber Valdez on short rest, he tried to set his team up to be better positioned for the final two games. First, they needed to survive one more game.

They would do just that, in dramatic fashion, with a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth. The victory comes on a bullpen day for both teams, and keeps Houston in the hunt for their second World Series in franchise history.

Final Score: Astros 4, Rays 3.

Series: TB leads 3-2.

Winning Pitcher: Ryan Pressly.

Losing Pitcher: Nick Anderson.

Teams trade early solo homers to start the bullpen day

Luis Garcia was who manager Dusty Baker turned to in a critical start in Game 5. He would have a perfect top of the first, then was immediately given a lead to work with thanks to a first-pitch home run by George Springer to lead-off the bottom of the inning.

Garcia worked himself into trouble in the top of the second, losing command of the zone and loading the bases on two walks and a hit batter, but stranded all three runners to end the inning. Blake Taylor would take over in the top of the third but would allow a game-tying solo homer against his first batter. He would get two outs before Houston moved on to Enoli Paredes to finish the inning.

Brantley puts the Astros ahead in the third

Houston would get that run back plus another in the bottom of the third, getting back-to-back hits by Josh Redick and Martin Maldonado to start the inning, setting up a two-RBI single by Michael Brantley to make it a 3-1 lead. Paredes continued on the mound to go as far as possible, erasing two walks for a scoreless top of the fourth, then returned in the fifth.

Randy Arozarena would cut the lead to one run against him in the top of the fifth, hitting a one-out solo homer to make it 3-2. Paredes would face one more batter, giving up a walk, before Andre Scrubb would be the next arm out of the bullpen. Scrubb finished the fifth, then came back for two more outs in the sixth, giving way to Brooks Raley, who came in to face the left-handed-hitting Brandon Lowe, who he would retire to end the inning.

Carlos Correa walks it off to force Game 6

Raley would get two more outs, retiring the first two batters of the top of the seventh before Josh James would come in to finish the inning. Still 3-2 in the top of the eighth, James would stay in the game, but Ji-Man Choi would start the inning with a solo home run to tie the game 3-3.

He allowed a single next but erased it with an impressive double play to empty the bases. James would come up limp after that play, though, and Houston would bring in closer Ryan Pressly to try and get an inning plus. He got a strikeout to end the eighth before Houston's top of the order would go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Pressly would get the four outs asked of him, working around a leadoff single in the top of the ninth for a scoreless frame. In the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Correa would play the hero, getting a walk-off solo home run to force Game 6, keeping the Astros alive another day.

Up Next: ALCS Game 6 between the Astros and Rays will be another early-evening game, with first pitch at 5:07 PM Central. While it hasn't been formally announced, it's expected to be a repeat pitching matchup from Game 1, with Framber Valdez on the mound for Houston and Blake Snell for Tampa Bay. The Astros will flip back as the visiting team for this game, and Game 7, if needed.

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Watch out for AJ Allmendinger this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons

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