Carlos Correa (left) and Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros celebrate the team’s 9-5 win against the Atlanta Braves in Game Five of the World Series at Truist Park on October 31, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (AFP)

Martin Maldonaldo drove in three runs and the Houston Astros extended their World Series title bid by rallying from a four-run deficit on Sunday to defeat Atlanta 9-5.

The 35-year-old Puerto Rican catcher became the first player in a World Series game to plate runs with a single, walk and sacrifice fly.

His efforts sparked the Astros, who pulled within 3-2 in Major League Baseball’s best-of-seven final with game six on Tuesday in Houston.

Houston’s Carlos Correa went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs while Marwin Gonzalez added a two-run single for the Astros, whose relief pitchers kept Atlanta to one run in the last eight innings.

“Carlos swung the bat great,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “I’m just glad we get to go back to Houston. One game at a time now. Still alive.”

Atlanta’s Adam Duvall smashed a grand slam home run in the first inning but the host Braves squandered the 4-0 lead as the Astros matched the 1919 Chicago White Sox for the largest deficit overcome to win a World Series game when facing elimination.

“I was trying to figure out how we could chip away at that, just trying to figure out how we could keep them from running away on us,” Baker said.

Baker had already done what he needed as the Astros, trying to solve their hitting woes, shuffled their batting lineup and it paid off.

The Braves, who had won their first seven home games in this year’s playoffs, seek their first World Series title since 1995.

The Astros are in their third World Series in five seasons, having won the 2017 title and lost to Washington in 2019.

The Braves jumped on Houston starting left-hander Framber Valdez in the first inning when Jorge Soler singled, advanced on a ground out and reached third on Austin Riley’s single before Eddie Rosario walked to load the bases.

Duvall followed by smashing a grand slam home run into the right-field stands to give Atlanta a 4-0 lead as a sellout crowd roared with delight.

It was the first World Series grand slam in an opening inning since Bobby Richardson of the New York Yankees hit one in 1960.

Yuli Gurriel, who moved up in the order, singled and took second when Kyle Tucker walked. Alex Bregman, who moved down in the lineup, doubled off the centerfield wall to score Gurriel and Tucker scored on a sacrifice fly by Maldonado as Houston pulled within 4-2.

Houston’s Jose Altuve reached base in the third on an error by Atlanta shortstop Dansby Swanson and advanced when Michael Brantley walked, pushing Atlanta to bring in relief pitcher Jesse Chavez.

Correa doubled to score Altuve and Brantley scored from third on a Gurriel ground out to pull Houston level.

– Freeman hits long homer –

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman answered in the third by smashing a full-count pitch from Valdez over the right-field wall for a solo homer to give the Braves a 5-4 edge.

The 460-foot (140.2m) blast was the longest of this year’s playoffs and matched the longest Freeman ever hit.

The Astros took their first lead in the fifth when Braves left-hander A.J. Minter issued a bases-loaded walk to Maldonado and pinch-hitter Gonzalez followed with a two-run single to left field, giving Houston a 7-5 advantage.

Tucker doubled in the seventh and scored on a two-out single to left by Maldonaldo that boosted Houston’s lead to 8-5.

Houston stretched the margin to 9-5 in the eighth when Altuve singled, stole second, took third on a ground out and scored on Correa’s single to left.

Source: Manila Bulletin (