Correa homer keeps Astros alive against Rays

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Carlos Correa clubbed a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday, lifting the Houston Astros to a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays and forcing a game six in baseball's American League Championship Series.

For the second straight night the Astros fended off elimination in the best-of-seven series, closing to within 3-2 in search of a World Series berth.

Rays first baseman Choi Ji-man had tied a close game at 3-3 with a solo homer in the eighth.

But Tampa Bay couldn't build on that in the top of the ninth and Correa delivered the knockout blow in the bottom of the final frame.

Correa belted a 1-1 fastball from Rays relief pitcher Nick Anderson into the centerfield seats to deliver a victory that keeps the Astros in the hunt to complete a rare comeback.

In 38 prior attempts, only one Major League Baseball team -- the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS -- has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.

"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone," Correa said.

"I was trying to get on top of that fastball, drive to center field and that's exactly what I did. I'm hyped right now," he added. "I'm running out of breath right now."

The Astros were on top from the start thanks to a leadoff homer from George Springer.

Tampa pulled even on Brandon Lowe's solo shot to deep right field in the third.

Houston gained some breathing room when Michael Brantley's single scored two runs in the third.

But the Rays responded with a solo homer from Randy Arozarena, his sixth of this post-season, in the fifth and Choi's eighth-inning blast.

They'll return on Friday in San Diego, with the Rays aiming to close out the series and the Astros trying to force a decisive game seven.

The winner of the series will take on either the Atlanta Braves or Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

The Braves took a 2-1 lead into game four of the National League Championship Series later Thursday.