HOUSTON – Almost out of time and out of the playoffs, the Kansas City Royals realized they needed more than a big home run.
They needed a lot of hits — a maybe a little help, too.
The defending AL champions saved their season Monday. They took advantage when Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, who went 4-for-4, couldn't handle a deflected grounder that might have been a double-play ball, rallying for five runs in the eighth inning to beat Houston 9-6, forcing their AL Division Series to a decisive Game 5.
"We always feel that we're still in games, and we still have a chance," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "That's the mentality for this whole entire team. It's never quit, and the character we showed today. That's what a championship ballclub does."
Correa homered twice, doubled, singled and drove in four runs. Houston took a 6-2 lead into the eighth, but a tough error charged to the 21-year-old rookie keyed the Royals' comeback.
"I missed it. That's what happened," Correa said. "I wish I was perfect. I wish I could do everything perfect, but I'm not. I'm human."
Game 5 will be in Kansas City on Wednesday night.
"Everyone that watched that game, everybody that was a part of that game knows how difficult it is to feel like that game was closing in our favor and then have it not go our way," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
"But it's big boy sport. We'll adjust, and we will be ready to play," he said.
Late in the game, a tweet from the account of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott congratulated the Astros on advancing to the AL Championship Series. Abbott later tweeted for his personal account: "No predictions. Just support."
Kansas City opened the eighth with five consecutive singles off relievers Will Harris and Tony Sipp, with RBI hits by Lorenzo Cain and Hosmer making it 6-4 and leaving the bases loaded with no outs. Kendrys Morales followed with a hard, one-bouncer off Sipp's glove. The ball took two more hops and got past the top of Correa's mitt, rolling into center field as two runs scored to tie it at 6.
"Just a weird spin on the ball and tough play," Sipp said. "I'm sure it was tougher than it looked."
Alex Gordon's RBI grounder later in the inning put Kansas City ahead. Hosmer launched a long, two-run homer in the ninth.
"I felt real confident that we were going to make a game out of it," manager Ned Yost said. "I just felt that the bats were going to come alive, and they really did in the eighth inning. I mean really did."
Ryan Madson gave up two home runs in the seventh but got the win. Wade Davis pitched two innings for his second save. Colby Rasmus homered for Houston, his fourth in five playoff games this October. Carlos Gomez also connected for Houston.
Plunked by Yordano Ventura his first time up, Correa answered with a solo homer in the third. He put Houston on top with an RBI double in the fifth and became the youngest player (21 years, 20 days), with a multihomer game in AL playoff history with a two-run shot off Madson in the seventh.