ATLANTA — A Halloween party that had the potential to become a coronation turned into a celebration of life Sunday night.
That celebration was by the Astros, whose season appeared over after Framber Valdez surrendered a first-inning grand slam to Adam Duvall. The Astros at that point had scored only two runs over their previous 20 innings.
But those bats thawed over the next eight innings to produce a 9-5 victory over the Braves in Game 5 of the World Series at Truist Park, ensuring this Fall Classic will continue.
Still behind 3-2 in the series, the Astros head home with a chance at winning a second World Series in five years. The series will resume Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
The Braves, in a rare misfire by their dominant bullpen, lost for the first time in eight home games this postseason. Champagne remains on ice as the Braves attempt to win their first World Series since 1995.
Methodically, the Astros fought back before pulling away in the later innings. Houston received 6 ¹/₃ innings of shutout relief, in which the Braves managed just four hits.
Martin Maldonado, who owned a .247 OPS this postseason, drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded against A.J. Minter in the fifth that tied it 5-5 and changed the game’s complexion. The ensuing batter, pinch-hitter Marwin Gonzalez, hit a bloop two-run single that gave the Astros their first lead of the game at 7-5. The hit was Gonzalez’s first since Oct. 3 — the Astros didn’t place him on their ALDS or ALCS rosters. He was added for this series mainly to give the Astros an extra bat off the bench in the NL ballpark.
Maldonado struck again in the seventh with an RBI single against Drew Smyly that extended the Astros’ lead to 8-5. Kyle Tucker’s double started the rally. Maldonado finished the night with three RBIs. The Astros added a run in the eighth on Carlos Correa’s RBI single.
Freddie Freeman’s 460-foot rocket into the right-field seats leading off the third gave the Braves a 5-4 lead after they had flushed a four-run advantage in the Astros’ previous two at-bats. Freeman’s homer was the first of his career in the World Series.
The Astros scored twice in each of the second and third innings to erase the four-run hole into which they were buried following Duvall’s grand slam in the first.
Alex Bregman, dropped in the batting order to seventh because of his 1-for-14 entering play, stroked an RBI double against Tucker Davidson before Maldonado’s sacrifice fly pulled the Astros within 4-2. Davidson surrendered a single to Yuli Gurriel to begin the rally before walking Kyle Tucker.
Dansby Swanson booted Jose Altuve’s grounder leading off the third for an error and Michael Brantley walked before Correa’s RBI single sliced the Braves’ lead to 4-3. The game was tied moments later on Gurriel’s ground out.
Duvall blasted a grand slam in the first that had the sellout crowd almost tasting the World Series trophy. The grand slam was the 21st in World Series history — the last had been delivered by Bregman against the Nationals in 2019.
In the inning, Valdez allowed a leadoff single off Bregman’s glove but recorded two outs before Austin Riley’s single kept the inning alive. Yordan Alvarez’s throw to third on the play allowed Riley to reach second and Eddie Rosario’s ensuing walk loaded the bases. Duvall then cleared the right field fence for his second homer in the series.
The lefty Valdez lasted only 2 ²/₃ innings and allowed five earned runs on four hits with two walks for his second straight clunker in the series. Valdez allowed five earned runs over two innings in the Astros’ Game 1 loss.